Organizations are shedding conventional work team structures in favor of virtual team structures that are increasing in popularity (Lee-Kelley, Crossman, & Cannings, 2004). Ecollaboration enables collaboration between individuals not constrained by geographical distance or time. The emergence of the virtual team concept provides organizations with an alternate approach to managing work and individuals that are geographically separated (Gatlin-Watts, Carson, Horton, Maxwell, & Marltby, 2007). An advantage of virtual teams is that organizations can tap into resources rapidly to create a specialized work team that acts like a team, works like a team but doesn’t look like a typical team because team members may not be co-located (Stough, Eom, & Buckenmyer, 2000). E-collaborative technologies such as computer-based conferencing systems are of critical importance to the success of a virtual team (Arnison & Miller, 2002). In the absence of water-cooler philosophizing, virtual teams rely on technology to build trust between team members, resulting in greater synergy and ultimately team success in carrying out work tasks (Arnison & Miller, 2002; Stough et al., 2000). The article focus is on technological and organizational aspects of e-collaboration occurring today and forecasted for tomorrow. The specific topics addressed are e-collaboration in organizations, e-collaboration in organizations of today, specific e-collaboration success factors and future trends of e-collaboration in organizations of tomorrow.
Collaboration is simply described as individuals working together while sharing information (Yen, Wen, Lin, & Chou, 1999). E-collaboration is merely taking collaboration to an electronic level. The expansion of the Internet has created opportunities to increase business collaboration, resulting in enhanced information sharing while reducing the amount of uncertainty in decision-making resulting in better profits (Rudberg, Klingenberg, & Kronhamn, 2002). E-business consists of more than buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet, as it also entails the servicing of customers and collaborating with business partners. Information management both internally and externally is an increasing concern for organizations as paper-based systems can be very slow, prone to error and difficult to update. With a growing interest in e-business solutions that facilitate information sharing between organizations, organizations within a supply chain are looking to achieve greater synergies with e-businesses and specifically participation in e-collaboration. By integrating e-collaboration in supply chain services through an electronic marketplace, companies are able to work together more efficiently through sharing vital information to assist in supply chain activities without the implementation of expensive EDI networks. With the globalization in business, e-collaboration has become almost a requirement for an organization to successfully compete in the marketplace in terms of optimizing productivity, quality and ultimately profits (Yen et al., 1999).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collaboration: Collaboration occurs when two or more individuals work together to accomplish a work goal.
E-Collaborative Technologies: E-collaborative technologies consist of any form of computing that is used to assist a virtual team in accomplishing a work goal.
Virtual Teams: Virtual teams are work teams where a minimum of one team member is separated from other team members due to geographical time and distance.
Pervasive Computing: Pervasive computing can be described as computing that is embedded into professional or personal environments to provide seamless computing anytime and anywhere.
E-Collaboration: E-collaboration occurs when two or more individuals work together with the use of technology to assist in accomplishing a work goal.
Cognitive Intelligence: Cognitive intelligence refers to computing that is able to act as intelligent agents that not only understand individuals’ mental states but also have the capability to socialize with individuals much like individuals interact with each other.
Groupware: Groupware is a type of e-collaborative technology developed solely for the purpose of supporting virtual teams in communicating and information sharing to accomplish their work goals.