All right stop Collaborate and listen Ice is back with my brand new invention
OK, that's enough. This isn't a Blog about Vanilla Ice or bad 90's Rap music.
Collaboration is a hot topic in many business sectors right now, but what I have found is that many businesses struggle with the concept. So I have put together some information below to explain the concept a little better.
What is collaboration?
The action of working with someone to produce something:
"He wrote a book in collaboration with his son."
There are many good reasons for business to collaborate some of which I have listed below. In short, collaboration in business at the moment is about strategically aligning yourself with another business or businesses to maximise utilisation of resources, experience and finance for the benefit of both (or all) business.
Would it seem silly to go and purchase a tool that you are onlygoing to use 25% of the time, when there is a business around the corner that already has one of these tools and they to only use it 25% of the time? Why not collaborate and share the tool for a mutual benefit. This is one of the biggest benefits from collaborating, maximising resource utilisation. Resources can be buildings, tools, equipment, people, etc.
It is often said that "two heads are better than one". So when it comes to collaboration using the experience of others can be of great value and something that cannot be gained without collaboration. Having an alternate, experienced pair of eyes look over your business or project can be invaluable giving your feedback from a completely different perspective. This alone can help drive growth in your business, products and services.
Why compete when you can collaborate. Collaboration can often take place with two competitors agreeing to collaborate on certain products or services. Although some businesses would never agree to this as they see it as a sign of weakness, many businesses are prepared to work with competitors to obtain a business gain.
With funding and finance for business extremely hard to come by in many sectors at the moment, financially, collaboration is often the only logical way forward. Without the funding to develop and grow your business, your business will remain at a stand still whilst your competition rushes by. This leaves you in a position of exposure where your competitors can take advantage of you.
When collaborating in any form, it is advised that your consult your legal department for appropriate advice.
It is important to work in collaboration with like minded people and businesses to achieve the best results.
Remember to treat your collaboration like a business of its own. You must have structures, plans, policies, etc to ensure it works efficiently.
Be open minded and always on the look out for collaborative opportunities.
Examples of collaboration:
It is one thing to learn or read about the theory of collaboration, but it is another to see an actual example. Below are some examples of how some of the largest and most succesful businesses in the world have collaborated to grow their businesses and develop new products.
Collaborating to develop more sustainable containers
In 2009, The Coca-Cola Company created the PlantBottleTM, a plastic (PET) bottle partially manufactured (30%) with plant-derived materials (like sugar cane and molasses) and byproducts of sugar production in Brazil. These plants were chosen based on environmental criteria to ensure that they do not interfere with local crops. The remaining 70% of each bottle is made with materials derived from fossil fuels, such as petroleum. The Coca-Cola Company is now striving to manufacture a bottle made of 100% plant-derived materials and plant residues. In fact, they have already developed a prototype, and are now collaborating with Heinz to use their bottling factory.
The CocaCola Company has planned to invest $150 million in PlantBottleTM, to develop the next generation of technology for extracting sugar from plant residues such as plant stems, tree bark and fruit peel. It is also working to make the new container water and carbon neutral. Heinz has made a major investment in the project, although the company has revealed any details. It is hoping to take a step further towards its own goal of reducing emissions, waste and energy consumption by 20% by 2015.
At the time of publication, Heinz had already used 120 million PlantBottlesTM in the USA in 2011. The material in these new containers shares many properties with that of the original plastic (PET): it is amenable to carbonation of the liquid contained; recyclable; weighs the same; has the same life-time; shares the same appearance and chemical composition; and is suitable for water, juice and carbonated beverages. Use of PlantBottleTM can reduce carbon-footprints by 12% to 19%.
The bottle is 100% recyclable: the resulting byproducts can be re-used to manufacture more bottles, or to make other products, such as furniture or clothing. For example, The Coca-Cola Company and furniture maker Emeco have established a smart collaboration to manufacture the Emeco 111 Navy Chair, a chair made of 111 recycled bottles. Emeco has estimated that it will process more than three million PET bottles.
At 800 million users and growing, Facebook is the world’s largest social network. Having already conquered computers, smartphones and tablets, while becoming a daily habit for many users, Facebook is now invading the screens that remain: those of televisions and car dashboards. Over the past 6 months a team of engineers from Mercedes-Benz, working in Palo Alto, California, has developed an application that enables drivers to access Facebook from their car. The application is incorporated into the new telematic system found in MercedesBenz cars, mbrace2, which offers a high-resolution screen in the dashboard and high-speed wireless Internet connection and can interact with the drivers’ mobile phone. Google and Yelp (a website which locates and recommends nearby businesses) have also created applications for the system, which will be featured in all 2013 models, including the SL Class. The Facebook application is actually a simplified version of the social network, which has been specially designed for drivers and is focused on locating friends and businesses. In order to prevent drivers from becoming distracted while driving, MercedesBenz has blocked all functions that require typing while the car is running: it allows only basic functionality. Facebook has provided pre-written phrases that can be published with a single push of a button. Likewise, social games such as those developed by Zynga have also been blocked. On-deck information and entertainment applications have major market potential for the future; thus, automobile companies are working intensely to innovate in this area. For instance, they are exploring the idea that, given how often we currently use GPS devices in our cars for directions, the ability to locate nearby friends may prove to be an interesting option for many drivers. Although some people consider Facebook to be nothing more than an entertaining distraction, its use in cars may open up the way to Social Driving, and with it, all of the potential brought by obtaining new layers of information. Given Facebook’s ubiquity, the social network can even be thought of as a sort of social operating system.
If you are interested in talking more about business and or collaboration, contact Brad Kebblewhite.