Editor's Note: Collaboration's Benefits Outweigh Difficulties - InformationWeek

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Business & Finance
02:43 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl

Editor's Note: Collaboration's Benefits Outweigh Difficulties

Collaborative business--the sharing of business information and ideas among partners, suppliers, customers, and customers' customers--is a topic we've been writing about quite a bit this year. What we've found through our research, reporting, and discussions is that collaborative-business strategies can help increase sales, create opportunities, improve customer service, and decrease costs. But it can also be messy, frustrating, and downright difficult. It can bring about concerns of security, privacy, and intellectual property. It's a strategy that requires trust, the right technology infrastructure, a culture that's willing to share important data, and an organization whose top management believes in the strategy. But for those willing to tackle these and other challenges, collaborative business can pave the way to new and better ways of operating.

In this week's issue, we highlight 25 companies that get it. They span industries--health care, financial, advertising, insurance, logistics, legal, and others. They vary in size, from about $1 billion in revenue to $191 billion. The technologies used to collaborate come in many forms from many vendors. So while there's no single or simple formula for collaborating, these companies have embraced a philosophy and an infrastructure that has changed the way they do business.

For Owens & Minor, collaboration means tighter integration with large suppliers such as Kimberly-Clark and the potential to cut billions out of health-care supply-chain costs from future projects. For Sikorsky Aircraft, it means getting new helicopters to the market much faster. For Ogilvy & Mather, it means giving clients the ability to monitor global brands more efficiently. For General Motors, it means cutting the design time for a car from 36 months to 18 months.

For more on these companies and other innovators in collaboration, 25 Innovators In Collaboration.

Special thanks to C.K. Prahalad, professor of business administration at the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration and chairman of Praja, who provided input on our selections. Prahalad, who specializes in corporate strategy, recently co-authored an article titled "The Collaboration Continuum" for Optimize magazine. Prahalad's article can be found at optimizemag.com/issue/001/strategies.htm. For other recent stories, research reports, and white papers on collaborative business, see informationweek.com/techcenters/bizmgmt/collaboration.

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