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Abstract

Globalizing organizations, outsourcing, mobile work, inter-organizational teams, innovation, and reaching out to suppliers and customers are driving today’s need to improve collaboration within firms. And information technology (IT) is at the center of these trends. Businesses are also experimenting with different types of collaboration. While IT functions provide the “heavy lifting,” such as connectivity and information integrity, without which most collaboration efforts would not be effective, how new applications are implemented is often as important as the technology itself in delivering business value. This article explores IT’s role in enabling collaboration in organizations, and at the same time, what IT’s role should not be (i.e., what responsibilities and accountabilities should properly be the function of the business). It presents the results of research with a focus group of senior IT managers, looking first at why collaboration is becoming so important and the business value it enables. Next, it examines some of the different characteristics of collaboration and the key components of a collaboration program and at IT’s role in one. It concludes that effective collaboration will not result from implementing more collaboration software. Instead, this will require a proactive and holistic strategy that integrates business goals and technology potential.

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