Collaboration Strategist, At Your Service - InformationWeek
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Michael Sampson
Michael Sampson
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Collaboration Strategist, At Your Service

Consider this an invitation to participate in an open dialog about the business value of collaboration and user adoption.

The audience has found their seats. The auditorium lights dim. The stage lights increase in intensity. The speaker appears and immediately starts talking about the topic at hand.

What’s wrong with this picture?

In good conference protocol, speakers need an introduction, whether by the conference chairperson or a track moderator. No speaker should appear unannounced--with neither context, nor history, nor directional intent. With the launch of the BrainYard, InformationWeek’s new site dedicated to social networking and other forms of enterprise collaboration, I feel the same rules apply.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a collaboration strategist who advises end-user organizations in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and the United States on how to make collaboration work for their companies. Let me state up front that I don’t do work for vendors. My business revenue comes from consulting with end-user organizations, delivering workshops and master classes around the world, and selling books and reports. Maybe the best way to put it is that while I’m deeply interested in what vendors have to offer because these offerings create opportunities for end-user organizations, it’s what end-user organizations do with the technology that’s of primary interest to me. That’s what I’ll be writing about in future columns for the BrainYard site.

I have been working in the collaboration field for 15 years. After completing post-graduate studies in the mid-1990s in New Zealand, I worked as a strategist at Telecom New Zealand, with a focus on business market solutions for messaging, enhanced fax, and conferencing. In 1997, I started a Notes/Domino consulting firm and had a great time working with clients in Australia and New Zealand on how to apply Notes/Domino to business challenges. The year 2000 marked a transition in focus, and from 2000 to 2007 I worked as an industry analyst--studying the market, looking for the development of trends, and writing reports with end-user organizations in mind. My industry analyst work included stints at Ferris Research in San Francisco (although I did all my work remotely from New Zealand), and at my own collaboration-focused analyst firm, Shared Spaces Research & Consulting.

In 2001 and again in 2004, I wrote a report on Microsoft’s SharePoint collaboration software, recommending that companies proceed with caution. However, firms the world over were throwing caution to the wind, embracing this new technology with reckless abandon. By 2007, I was concerned that the technology was far outpacing the business and human factors related to companies’ effectively using SharePoint. As a consequence, I wrote two books on subject--"Seamless Teamwork," and "SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration."

More recently, I have been working to help companies navigate the biggest issue I see with collaboration technology today: user adoption--or more accurately, the lack thereof. The book I released last year, "User Adoption Strategies: Shifting Second Wave People to New Collaboration Technology," tackles this issue head-on.

With the dawn of 2011, my core professional interests are collaboration strategy, governing collaboration, and user adoption. There is more work to be done in each of these areas. For collaboration strategy, this work encompasses identifying and proving the business value of collaboration and crafting a strategy for how to take advantage of these opportunities. For governing collaboration, the challenge is how to ensure that organizations are putting effective controls in place to de-risk collaboration in the enterprise. With regard to user adoption, encouraging people to change the way they work is paramount.

With this background in mind--and thanks for letting me set my own context--I will be writing on the BrainYard about two main topics: the business value of collaboration, and user adoption. But remember: This is not a monologue; you have a voice, too. I look forward to interacting with you around these topics, whether through the blog comments area or phone discussions.

Let’s see what we can learn together over the next few months.

Michael Sampson is a collaboration strategist and author. You can reach him at or +64 3 317 9484 (New Zealand).

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