There is no right or wrong way to define collaboration. The actual process of collaborating can be organic, formal, used for ad–hoc purposes or designed for longer-term, repeating situations. IDC and IDC Manufacturing Insights breaks the collaboration market into subcategories, including: Integrated Collaborative Environments (ICEs) – a framework for e-collaboration based on a shared directory and messaging platform Team Collaborative Applications (TCAs) – Web-based tools for formal teams
Manufacturers are using myriad of tools to address their collaboration needs – particularly as the supply chain continues to have a global reach which brings with it the need to coordinate and communicate across multiple suppliers and partners. In addition, the changing workforce is also pushing manufacturers to look for new tools to capture the knowledge of the exiting workforce and train the new employees.
IDC Manufacturing Insights also, correctly, predicted in Worldwide Manufacturing 2011 Top 10 Predictions (IDC Manufacturing Insights, #MI226362, December 2010) that “value chains will put a stake in the cloud to level-set technology capabilities and support information sharing and collaborative processes.”
The cloud has definitely shifted the perspective of how manufacturers view their business and their ability to collaborate. As stated in Business Strategy: Cloud Computing in Manufacturing (IDC Manufacturing Insights, #MI228939, June 2011) 44.3% of manufacturing firms are either implementing or currently evaluating cloud deployments – with more than 22% already implemented.
There are concerns with cloud-based technologies – particularly security when collaborating and sharing data across a complex supply chain; but the benefits of collaboration tend to outweigh the risks – especially when precautions such as employing a security vendor to help encrypt the cloud-based network are taken proactively.
Using a cross-section of the various collaboration technologies discussed above – Web 2.0, integrated and team collaborative applications – on-line, can help manufacturers in improving business relationships across its supply chain with suppliers, partners and even customers.
I will be publishing an upcoming report that looks more in-depth at the collaboration applications available to manufacturers, and the various business issues addressed. Feel free to share your innovative manufacturing collaboration stories at the IDC Manufacturing Insights blog.