CEO Cheat Sheet: The Benefits of Collaboration Tools

Smaller businesses can simplify processes and enhance relationships using collaboration tools. MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson explains how and looks at the technologies improving these tools

Naomi Grossman, Contributor

June 5, 2008

2 Min Read

How can collaboration tools help smaller businesses? BizWise TV went to MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson with that question. For starters, he notes that they can help smaller businesses codify routines and processes and provide them with a systematic way of keeping track of things.

But beyond that, Brynjolfsson notes that collaboration tools can help smaller businesses connect with potential partners -- whether they're customers or suppliers.

Most significantly, according to Brynjolfsson, collaboration tools can help intensify and enhance smaller business' existing relationships with customers and suppliers. "Much of the benefits of collaboration tools is to make existing relationships richer," he says.

Historically, though, collaboration tools have been costly -- the tools themselves as well as implementation and maintenance costs -- and out of the reach of many smaller businesses. Brynjolfsson notes that those costs are coming down now.

A bigger barrier to smaller business' adoption of collaboration tools, says Brynjolfsson, is the organizational and cultural resistance within the businesses themselves. Businesses need to consider not only adoption of the tools but also of the change in work practices that they engender.

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Brynjolfsson also sees a huge improvement in the technologies underlying many collaboration tools. The quality and improved bandwidth of the tools will engender increased innovation that smaller businesses will notice most specifically in video conferencing, the ability to share not only text but also multimedia, and real time communications that won't be bound by geography or a desktop but through all sorts of devices.

VIDEO: The Benefits of Collaboration Tools

Naomi Grossman is assistant editor of

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