The first time I used an online collaboration tool I was 11 years old, my friends and I had just bought the classic game Diablo 2. Not being content with simply completing the game, we (my friends, my cyber-friends and I) set up a forum where we could discuss the best tactics for not only completing the game, but becoming the best at it. Within a year we had listed all the monsters in the game, the percentage chance of each magical item dropping in various locations and every item with it’s characteristics.
Effectively we had created a simple social intranet by which we could become the best “clan” in the game, in a period of a year we had created a wealth of information about the game which anybody could access, edit and review. This idea was taken even further by the players of World of Warcraft, but for whichever computer game you want to play you can find pretty much any information you need in communities across the internet.
That said, it’s not just gamers who are collaborating, whatever your topic of interest, be it stamp collecting, fixing laptops or fantasy football, you’ll be able to find a group of people online talking about it. This of course, applies to your business as well; whether you are talking about your products and services online with your customers or not, they’re talking about you. This however is a discussion for another blog.
The point is, if a group of 11 year olds could use social networking tools to create a knowledge bank about a computer game, with no adult input or direction, what could your business with all it’s resources do if it was given the tools to collaborate online? Businesses of all shapes and sizes are embracing the change and reaping the benefits; reducing costs, increasing productivity, creating knowledge banks and reducing training costs to name but a few.
What’s more the arising workforce, people like myself who have grown up around social networks, intrinisically have the skills to use social networks taught to us by wasted hours on forums then MySpace, Facebook and later Twitter. Within the next decade social media is going to become a business norm and if your business is to keep up you need to embrace it both as a medium to convery your message to customers and for the powerful collaboration tool it can be.