Collaboration is a social activity and business to business along with many internal business cross silo collaboration requires a means for businesses to develop a type of social relationship.  Business customer and consumer collaboration with businesses requires the business again to develop a social relationship with their end customers and this social relationship is different than the business to business relationship.  Collaborative relationships can be a bit of a tangled web of connectivity and types of connectivity and this can be very challenging to develop and then maintain.  Businesses must become more social and open to collaboration in order to develop the necessary relationships and interactions across all of the players in these relationships. 


Relationships are difficult objectives to achieve simply because of the diversity and lack of structure many relationships demand to be successful.  Collaborative relationships within your own organization are difficult enough and this is in an environment where everyone should be working towards the same goal, then expand that to business partners and the difficulty in maintaining the relationship increases many fold and then expand out to your customers and then your partners’ customers and the difficulty continues to multiply.   When you start out in developing the relationships these challenges can seem overwhelming and yet if you simply take one step at a time you will be amazed at the progress.  There are continuous challenges to overcome although the challenges become less overwhelming when you are working together with your internal and external business collaborative partners.


As in personal relationships, professional relationships and atrophy and die on the vine without continuous maintenance and work to maintain the relationships.  Professional collaborative relationships are relatively in developing and maintaining because you should have an agreement to define the relationship and the requirements and expectations for each partner.  This is a minimum requirement however and must be enhanced through personal relationships across the business partners.  This ‘over and above’ practice and relationship development will allow the partnership to flourish and encourage the robust participation of partners.  Everybody loses if most partners are only concerned with the bare minimum relationship.


Another difficult challenge is maintaining the fresh appeal and participation of the partners.  This freshness is the glue that holds the collaborative relationship together and this freshness will also encourage customers and consumers to interact in the collaborative relationships.  End customers and consumers are the most fickle of the collaborative partnerships and require constant contact and interaction in order to maintain interest and grow the number of customer participants.   You have no written agreement with your customers to participate in the collaborative partnership and so you must maintain a fresh approach and interactions with these participants in order to maintain the relationship. 


Maintaining relationships is critical in the collaborative partnerships.  If you can maintain the relationships with customers you will not require as much effort to maintain the professional relationships.  It is important though to continuously strive for the connection and the fresh reactions in order to maintain these relationships.


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?