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Social networking changing face of collaboration

Social networking changing face of collaboration

Experts, users say evolution is taking shape

He says the tools will provide flexibility in that they give non-developers tools to build simple to sophisticated collaborative applications without the help of developers.

Fulkerson says that option is empowering to end-users. He says one MindTouch customer told him he received a pay raise because his bosses now think he is a developer.

But Fulkerson admits this is not a reinvention of collaboration rather its evolution.

"It's never brand new in technology," he says. "It's making it easier, better, and more accessible. That is what we are doing."

End-users are responding to the trend, but admit the roll-up won't be overnight.

"What I see is a brave new world for corporate America but that corporate cultures have to change," says Abigail Lewis-Bowen, who is helping a product and pharmaceutical company tie social networking tools into its existing collaboration platform.

"There is a lot of myth and fear," Lewis-Bowen said. "It is not the technology but how to set it up and use it. There is a lot of education."

She says many companies cemented in their work processes need "a certain amount of therapy to be open and communicative" in the ways provided by social software.

In her own organization, she is hoping it will take only a year or two to "see significant changes in the way people communicate and function."

But she says one big hurdle is already cleared in that her organization realizes these changes in collaboration are happening and that they can be beneficial. And the most important development is that the company is reacting. Lewis-Bowen, in fact, was brought on board to help lead the evolution.

Vendors agree that users need to start slow and build a solid foundation in order to set themselves up for success in marrying social tools and current collaborative platforms.

"People really need to understand how something like a wiki can change collaboration internally before they move on to some of the pie-in-the-sky stuff," says Jay Simons, vice president of marketing for Atlassian, which develops enterprise wiki software.

"It is important to establish a solid foundation on how people work. If you don't, it becomes a missed opportunity because it gets harder to achieve some of the higher order things."


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