05:52 PM

Collaboration 3.0

Web 2.0, Business 2.0, Collaboration 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Wherearewegoing 2.0... The list goes on and on.  But the designation 2.0 doesn’t really indicate a mature product.  If there’s one thing we've learnt from Microsoft, time and time again, is that it's version 3.0 that counts.

Indeed, what we consider to be Web 2.0 and such is child's play compared to the early Collaboration 3.0 processes and technologies that a few leading companies have been quietly deploying.Boeing is one such company.

Two weeks ago (the date was 7/8/7), Boeing unveiled the revolutionary 787 Dreamliner aircraft to a global audience, said to have reached 100 million viewers.   

Before the aircraft was even approved by Boeing's board of directors, the company had created an online community, the World Design Team, literally comprised  of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, to solicit input on what they wanted to see in the new aircraft.  Boeing surveyed members of the community incessantly.  "Tell us what you want when you fly" was its philosophy.  The WDT's input had real impact on the actual design of the aircraft.  But Boeing didn't stop there.  

Boeing brought its suppliers in as partners during the initial design phases, with a goal of collaboratively designing the parts and then building them.  This was fairly ambitious and a project of far greater scale than had ever been done.  70% of the aircraft is not just being manufactured but also designed by Boeing's partners in collaboration with Boeing around the world.

Parts for the aircraft were designed concurrently by partners located in 11 countries and then assembled virtually in a computer model maintained by Boeing.  What we now think of as advanced collaboration, where we meet in online workspaces or share documents, is nothing compared to designing a complex piece of machinery such as an aircraft where two or more parts that are being independently designed will eventually be attached to the same product.  Concurrent design entails far greater complexity than one might imagine.

Next week we'll take a more in-depth look at how Boeing achieved this.

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