The management of communication tools across the collaborative network can be a little tricky and should not be taken for granted.  You and your partners must take into account many moving parts that cross over many tools in many infrastructure environments and this coordination can be tricky at times.  One of the key points in managing the tools across all of these environments is the capabilities of the tools.  This is why it is so  important to focus on cloud tools. Remember one of the important reasons for utilizing cloud technology is the simplicity to utilize across platforms and technologies.  This leaves the management of the tools as a functional requirement more than a technical requirement.

The functional management of the tools can be a little tricky because it involves some level of standardization across the partner network.  The communications and collaboration must be accepted as asynchronous communications, like email or text communications, where you do not expect an immediate response.  This is where process management and procedures can help.  Process and procedures will ensure that all participating members understand and more importantly they also provide a method for all partners to participate in the definition and coordination of the tool utilization and also the expectations of the communications control and response.  Most importantly it provide a feedback loop for the continuous improvement of the tools, utilization and communication practices. 

The single technical requirement to be taken into account when selecting and utilizing tools is the security aspect.  Do not overlook the security factors from both the access and integration aspects.  My recommendation is to block the direct integration to your internal tools and simply allow the access from the web browser.  There are too many factors to take into account to ensure your internal network is secured and you should not open up your network to a new set of outside factors.  The security of your internal network is too important to take a chance.  Taking this into account though does not severely impact the benefits of collaboration and communication tools.  Each partner must enter into this security discussion with open eyes to understand and address the concerns, you cannot simply forbid use of these tools, or you cannot forbid the use for very long.

One of the most beneficial aspects of cloud based communication tools is the ability of these tools to support all of the communication and collaboration needs of a community.  One of the challenges that the community faces in implementing and utilizing these tools is understanding, incorporating and then management the utilization of these tools.  An important aspect of the incorporation and management of these tools is exploring the capabilities to understand how to gain the greatest benefits.  Then the next step is to incorporate a management process that reviews tool capabilities to determine new ways to support the community based on the growth and changes to the collaboration community.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?