Since returning from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the activities and conversations that took place. With so many leaders from different organizations gathered together, there was much discussion about key themes that were top-of-mind and how they might impact businesses over the next few years.
Conversations were varied, fruitful and positive. Of course, given the wider WEF theme of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there was much discussion on the market forces that are part of it, such as artificial intelligence, data and analytics, privacy, governance and regulation, and the power of the cloud. I also took part in many conversations about how these technologies will affect the workforce.
Although words like digitization and disruption are becoming slightly overused, many areas of innovation have quickly developed into something far bigger and more global, with impacts that can be felt more widely, more quickly and more acutely than ever. Finding the right staff is one of the most important challenges managers face, and they are grappling to better understand the ever-changing needs and hopes of their people so they can design workplaces that attract and retain the best possible talent.
As I took part in these conversations, one thing became clear – in order to succeed and thrive in such challenging times, collaboration is key. When I say collaboration, I mean it on several different levels – from team collaboration within your own enterprise, to working with partner organizations, and of course most importantly, the seamless collaboration with clients across company borders.
The benefits of multi-functional, diverse teams are well-known – you can read the headlines and witness your teams in action to see it. However, to take this concept more widely, aligning with like-minded and complementary organizations becomes an increasingly important consideration for long-term strategies and plans for many CEOs and their management teams.
These relationships foster and enable diversity of thought. By working alongside individuals that have different approaches, influences and cultural backgrounds, innovation and return on investment can be realized more quickly. Sharing a collective group of experiences brings teams together, giving them an expanded set of skills and long-term thinking that lets them transcend the limits of what any single team or organization could achieve.
In fact, with transaction costs decreasing as quickly as customer demand for value is rising, it’s critical that organizations look beyond their walls to partner organizations to help deliver what is needed. By doing this, they can stay competitive, agile and cost efficient. In German we have a term that describes a living, agile organization, one that can level out demand in an efficient way.
Of course, this sort of flexibility can only be achieved through a strategic alliance model or ecosystem. This allows organizations to come together as needed to combine skill-sets, offerings, products, and ideas that meet their individual and collective objectives in every timeframe.
I believe this strategic way of running an agile business can succeed only when it is supported by a modern collaboration infrastructure, which scales across borders to seamlessly integrate with both alliance partners and clients. Technology projects should be more than just adding a new feature. Done thoughtfully and done right, they are the key that lets companies adapt to changing demands.
I look forward to discussing this further, drilling deeper into the technologies available, sharing ideas and looking at role models in the market over the coming weeks.