Knowledge workers typically are high-paid employees, so increasing their productivity is crucial. Collaboration technologies are emerging to do just that.
- Video and Web conferencing are expected to grow at a rate of 20 percent annually.
- At one high-tech enterprise, the sales force became a crucible for testing collaboration tools. The savings on travel were four times the company’s technology investment. Customer contacts per salesperson rose by 45 percent and 80 percent of the sales staff reported higher productivity and a better lifestyle.
- The U.S. intelligence community made wikis, documents and blogs available to analysts across agencies (with appropriate security controls, of course).
- Bechtel established a centralized, open-collaboration database of design and engineering information to support global projects. Engineers starting new ones found that the database, which contained up to 25 percent of the material they needed, lowered launch costs and sped up times to completion.
The next leap forward in the productivity of knowledge workers will come from interactive technologies combined with complementary investments in process innovations and training.
The comeback of the knowledge worker? For the last few years the term seemed to disappear. Business Process Management was dominating the discussion with the focus on cost reduction nearly neglecting the need of dynamic discussion, communication, collaboration and knowledge work. Now driven by the success of social software, web- and cloud based collaboration and real-time communication services we see a renaissance of the knowledge workers - with much easier possibilities to support them and spread the appropriate tools across and beyond the enterprise.