Why collaboration? I think it appeals because its less fluffy than 'KM' - people intuitively think its good (few CEO's are crying out for their people to collaborate less) - and it taps a current need: in trying to cut costs by e.g. reducing travel, people are feeling the pain of projects failing and mis-communication. 'Virtual teams' as a term has been around long enough, but few companies are getting it right.
This snippet from the middle of Sam Marshall's comments hints at why collaboration has gained new attention: collaboration = faster throughput with the same resources. He also reminds us that for this to be done well, we have to prepare for it.
As part of his discussion on expert databases last week, John Chu shared a report on the topic from Outsell, Trend Alert: Connecting People to People - Expert Databases (abstract only). Outsell surveyed a number of companies with expert databases and said some things about knowledge management and setting up expert databases. It was the conclusion that was most telling:
In our opinion, the pain won't be worth the gain if collaborative work practices aren't already inherent within the organization.
It is relatively easy to set up the technology to run video conferences and webinars. But to create a culture that takes advantage of these technologies is much more difficult, and much more interesting in the long term. Beyond saving money on travel, what does the organization expect to gain from having NetMeeting or WebEx or iSight?