This week at the Collaborative Economy Conference, a host of talented speakers will elaborate on the powerful social landscape that has emerged from decentralized business strategies with a peer to peer (P2P) ecommerce structure. Over the past several years, the sharing economy, empowered by digital platforms, has cultivated extreme accessibility, share-ability, and a new form of crowd-sourced collaboration while effectively flipping traditional business models on their heads. What can we learn from this disruption, and how can we apply specific characteristics of these businesses to our own to stay relevant and flexible?
The collaborative economy is forcing institutions to adapt to a world in which not only customers, but makers, co-creators, and peers play an important role in the way goods, services, space, transportation, and even food and money are shared and consumed. Start-ups and global corporations alike now have the opportunity - and eventually, the necessity - to become a “new kind of digital institution” by capitalizing on these market changes to harness the power of the collaborative economy.
Defining The “New” Landscape
In our blog post last week, we discussed the rapidly emerging digital economy and how companies are restructuring to accommodate it. We shared Forrester Research’s major principles of organizational transformation in the digital age:
“Harness big data and make it actionable.
Transform the customer experience to make it personal and contextual.
Accelerate your digital business by taking advantage of cloud-based innovation.
Embrace the mobile mind-shift and plan ahead for the always-on, and always-on-the-go consumer.”
As leading enterprise giants and small organizations alike make the shift to a digital and brand-first perspective, the question becomes: what can we learn from successful companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Etsy, who have made it clear that the collaborative economy is more than a passing fad?
Understanding the “new social audience”
While your ears might start to bleed if you hear one more stat on the latest mobile viewing numbers, there is no denying that consumption and communication of the general public is largely occurring on mobile devices. Leaders in the collaborative economy have harnessed the power of short form messaging, and intuitive transaction and communication. Taking this one step farther, it will become crucial for organizations to provide similar “on the go” collaboration tools to allow employees to stay connected from afar.
If we’ve learned anything from the collaborative economy, it’s the perils of an inflexible strategy. A key factor in successful digital transformation is, therefore, the procurement of a flexible platform with the capacity to support an open-system product roadmap, adapting to change as needed. In this environment, the flexibility of open source products will only become more valuable! And of course, this dexterity is key for both customer and internal engagement tools.
One thing that all successful collaborative economy platforms have in common is engaged people. People participating in these platforms are the very substance of its value. From this vantage point, the shared economy really boils down to the power of crowd-sourcing, which means that accessibility is a must. Echoing the most basic principles of open source technology, the collaborative economy is dependent on contribution by an ever-expanding community of engaged users, influencers, and developers. Opening up channels of access between these participants will make these communities even stronger.
Social Collaboration with Open Atrium
Using these lessons as a guide, Phase2 continues to iterate on Open Atrium to emphasize true social collaboration, flexibility, and accessibility. Some of important ways we’re enabling organization to thrive in the evolving digital landscape:
Support for Dispersed Work Environments
Earlier we discussed understanding the new social audience. In the context of collaboration in the workplace, this translates to a flexible but robust structure (complemented by a clear governance model) to facilitate clear communication and organization. Remote employees or a dispersed team should not impact the architecture of the organization’s collaboration system. Open Atrium was developed with this in mind. We included features to improve workflow, track progress, and embed rich content all within the CMS. This keeps employees centralized in a well-organized workflow, even when their locations are decentralized.
Speaking of a Centralized Workflow...
As business strategies evolve in the digital economy, their tools will need to evolve as well. Open Atrium was designed to integrate with third party tools and applications, giving organizations the freedom to scale and extend. This allows companies to operate from a central platform, the “home base” of all internal social collaboration. File sharing, digital content management, and even email are integrated within Open Atrium, saving teams the time and effort of maintaining numerous other tools with overlapping capabilities.
Open technology is at the core of Phase2’s identity. As an open source platform, Open Atrium has the benefit of crowd-sourced code contribution from the greater open source community. This community strengthened by not only the thousands of available Drupal modules but also the thousands of people who pour their energy into developing and supporting these modules. We learned that building a successful platform was all about balancing the right modules with custom code to better integrate the modules together. That’s why we like to see Open Atrium was “proudly invented elsewhere.”
Embracing open technology helped us build Open Atrium, but it also benefits the organizations using the platform by ensuring their solution is constantly improving in order to adapt to whatever changes the digital era may bring. In essence, openness spurs digital transformation by preventing technology from stagnating. And like the collaborative economy as a whole, Open Atrium relies on the engaged participation of its social collaborators, who are always hard at work increasing its value.