The Wild, Wild Web

The wild, wild Web has become a messy place indeed. Rather than compiling and organizing all the known knowledge of the human species (which it promised), it has managed to disambiguate most of it into fragmented and unassociated masses of disassociated content. It’s kind of disappointing.

But many efforts are underway to simplify and de-clutter the repositories that have been recently built, some quite randomly and sometimes accidentally. There are efforts underway that recognize the potential for chaos—and great risk—in the proliferating masses of content now being pushed to cloud storage. Many systems and solutions are currently available to help organizations control the growth and sprawl of Web-based information deserts and replace them with safe, secure and searchable assets for knowledge workers.

But it’s complicated. Making matters worse are the many channels that contribute to the noise—partner and customer communications, employees who take business information home or on the road, email use and abuse, and just plain fatigue and overwhelmedness (is that a word?… my spell-checker says no, but it should be). Adding to the mess is the variety of content types that are becoming more prevalent and common for business uses—video, images, presentation tools, sound and collaborative platforms. It just seems to get worse and worse.

I have learned recently that collaboration has escaped a simple explanation. Long gone are the days when the topic simply referred to a matter of providing an authoring platform and maybe a content management system that served as a convenient means for employees to post and share information with group and team members. It’s reached the point of out-of-control, and something needs to stop.

We have a couple of examples in the coming pages. What has struck me in exploring this area is the vast diversity of understanding exactly what is meant by collaboration. It has taken on flavors and nuance that I didn’t see coming. But that’s the way it works; there are usually many ways to skin a cat.

For example, Accusoft takes a “view” of collaboration by emphasizing the use of viewer software as a sort of “leveling” agent that allows users to disambiguate (I’m into that word lately) various content sources by providing a universal way to look at the many types of content that occur naturally and spontaneously. They recognize the massive confusion that can occur in today’s information glut, while also recognizing the potential liabilities (legal and otherwise) that can occur from mismanagement and inattention to the proliferation of content.

They write: “More than one-third of companies use email for document collaboration and sharing. Using email as your collaboration medium has the potential to create an unmanageable number of documents being shared. These documents are then printed, downloaded, altered and otherwise distributed, making tracking these files nearly impossible.

“But what if you’re one of the other 66% of companies not using email?”

What indeed. As more and more options become available—Dropbox, Google Docs, even Instagram and Facebook—the confusion only increases. And the potential for risk and disruption increases exponentially.

“In a business world that is becoming more digital by the day, and offices that can be located across the globe, online collaboration in your company has never been more important. With an increased online presence comes increased digital vulnerability. Managing and securing your documents should be at the forefront of measures to decrease risks while maintaining easy collaboration between teams and across the company,” writes Andie Rice-Tanner on behalf of Accusoft.

Another contributor, Clarizen, chose to focus (correctly so, I think) on a prominent user of Web content management to illustrate the real-world value of the careful and well-planned implementation of collaboration tools. They quote a manager of a well-known healthcare provider, Boston Scientific, named Anita Neuman, who underscores the critical nature of having a universal means of sharing information.

“Clarizen enables projects that originate in one portfolio to be linked to all portfolios where it will have an impact.” Neuman explains. “This type of visibility ensures that we are working on the right things and that our resources are deployed where they can make the greatest difference.”

Read on, and grab some insights into the huge subject that is today’s collaboration environment. You will start to get an idea of the variety of problems and solutions available to you. 

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