There’s a popular view that innovation is something of a mystical process; the preserve of rare geniuses receiving a flash of inspiration as they work alone. This view of innovation, however romantic, is generally incorrect. Even somewhat eccentric inventors such as Alan Turing and Thomas Edison worked in close collaboration with wider teams, without which their work would not have been possible (indeed, Edison is widely recognised as the originator of research and development teams within businesses). Even Isaac Newton, who spent most of his time working alone, admitted: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.
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In our digital age this fact holds true: innovation is the result of a collective effort; of enterprise-wide collaboration based on a full understanding of goals and context. The more easily a business can collaborate, the more likely it is to come up with truly innovative (and lucrative) customer services. Digital enterprises depend on effective collaboration and engagement among employees, partners, and customers in order to remain competitive and deliver cutting edge products and services.
The key question facing businesses is how they can enhance collaboration. What is it exactly that enables free and effective collaboration?
For me, the answer is simple: collaboration is what happens when organisational barriers are removed. When people are able work freely with the people they need to work with, drawing on the resources and content they need at any given time, then they are able to collaborate. Such an environment is a world away from the simple ‘file sync and share’ platforms that currently dominate the enterprise space.
One good way of breaking down these barriers is to embrace the agility of cloud platforms. These services seamlessly blend content, people, processes, as well as communications, as part of a cohesive workflow. This is about much more than simply being able to share documents with teams; it’s about delivering content that is contextually relevant to the task at hand. Cloud platforms can deliver just that by focusing on two areas: content and process.
When it comes to content, modern cloud platforms allow businesses to free their enterprise content by allowing employees to access the information they need anywhere, anytime and on any device. Crucially, the cloud also enables freer and more intuitive working practices. No longer do documents need to be emailed in attachments, downloaded and uploaded and version controlled. Teams can manage version history and access control within the cloud. Moreover, cloud platforms can change the way businesses collaborate by enabling social conversations – teams can talk as a group in a dynamic environment, regardless of where in the world they are based. In short, cloud platforms enable better decision making through enhanced information exchange, social collaboration, and mobility.
Traditionally however, other barriers to collaboration have remained behind the scenes in business process management. Businesses today need to quickly deploy and adapt processes to meet their operational demands. However, the cost and complexity of implementing infrastructure to support new tools has in the past been prohibitive. The cloud solves this by offering visibility and management of business processes, delivering a full lifecycle process management environment that allows businesses to easily extend existing Software-as-a-Service and on-premise applications across the enterprise. By being able to tailor their applications in the cloud and extend them to wherever they are needed, businesses can ensure they are getting the most of their content while providing an environment in which collaboration can flourish.
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Any business serious about innovation needs to ensure that collaboration can take place easily within their organisations. By enabling agile content and process management through the use of tools like Oracle’s Content and Process solution, cloud platforms can help them do just that.