In today’s world, the statement, “we cannot do this alone” is common parlance among business executives. This is in recognition that individuality does not yield the necessary fruits required to keep businesses afloat all the time. Unlike our conventional wisdom that human beings are competitive in nature and that competition brings out the best in us, modern day trend in business suggests the contrary. Team effort is now required from government, business and the civil society to handle all the challenges that present themselves in the various sectors such as energy, water, carbon, food and security. Collaboration is an imperative in harnessing the individual creativity of the human mind so as to enable them realize their potential.
Howard Rheingold argues that collaboration is essential in business and that there is immense power in collaboration. Contrary to popular belief, success in business and cooperation are no longer mutually exclusive concepts, instead they are fast closing on, on being mutually inclusive. A look at some of the most successful businesses in modern day attests to this very fact. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Apple that produce electric gadgets as well as Proctor and Gamble (P&G) owe their success to collaboration although they also benefited from individual brilliance of their founders. However, it must be borne in mind that the genius or ideas would remain just that, without collaboration.
In the quest for businesses to cooperate or collaborate, the use of digital media as opposed to traditional media has come in handy. Advances in digital technology have resulted in an increase in stakeholder engagement in a level unprecedented. For instance, Unilever’s first Sustaining Lab conducted in the year 2012 offers a succinct example where stakeholders were engaged. Businesses are making use of digital platforms to broaden their base and reach several stakeholders. This option is now taking the place of traditional means of engagement such as roundtables, forums, surveys and interviews. Another example of such is company Accenture which hosted Sustainability 24 in May 2013 bringing together business leaders as well as government by use of digital media.
Another good instance of the collaborative efforts enabled by digital media is company Cisco which integrates the mobile, visual and social aspects of collaboration to bring together people. In this way, the company is able to bring on board customers, employees and suppliers to their respective roles at any time, in any place and by any device. These methods of collaboration helps save on cost besides improving on security and accessibility.
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