ZDNet recently published a Meta Group report by analyst Mike Gotta that suggests collaboration is a business strategy, not a tool strategy.
Through 2004, organizations will rein in tactical collaboration products (instant messaging, teamware, and Web conferencing) for companywide deployments, driven by architecture needs, product standardization benefits, and shared infrastructure flexibility. By 2008, “contextual collaboration” – enabling organizations to embed collaboration into production applications – will span customers, employees, and partners, creating time-to-market, problem resolution, and travel displacement efficiencies as part of an overall service-oriented architecture-based knowledge worker infrastructure strategy.
Included in the report is this prediction:
By 2005, we expect a sales automation application to be connected to a process orchestration engine that has a rule set that defines semantics around creation of a “virtual sales war room” when a sales process reaches a certain point. For instance, upon receipt of an RFP, a team workspace would be automatically instantiated and populated with a task template, documents, RFP response templates, buddy lists, discussion forum, and a common project calendar. Embedded collaboration services such as “presence” (knowing if someone is online) will increasingly become a core piece of metadata associated with application and content objects. Users will be able to right-click on an object within an application to obtain contextual information, such as an account name to obtain a pop-up list of contacts (e.g., salesperson, account team, service representative), and would be able to escalate from that profile information into a screen-sharing or document-sharing session (e.g., to clarify a question or response related to the RFP). This design model is different from earlier collaboration efforts that focused on people and not how people work within processes.