by Erica Driver.

It’s Thursday night of Forrester IT Forum and I’ve had 19 formal one-on-one meetings with attendees so far, and talked with dozens of other people during meals and breaks and before and after presentations. There’s something striking about these conversations, compared to years past. Pretty much every meeting I’ve had with non-vendor attendees has been about their organization’s enterprise collaboration strategy or Information Workplace strategy — or their need to develop one. I’ve been speaking with information and knowledge management professionals with titles like CIO, VP Emerging Technology, Sr. Project Leader, Dir. Global Strategy and Architecture, and VP of Information Systems. They are coming to 1:1 meetings extremely well-prepared, armed with architecture diagrams, drafts of their collaboration strategy documents, and lists of carefully thought-through questions. What a difference from five years ago when common questions were, "What are other companies doing in the area of collaboration?" or "Which is a better team collaboration tool: eRoom or Groove?"

American companies are moving in droves toward Phase 4 (Standardization) — and some toward Phase 5 (Information Workplaces) in Forrester’s collaboration maturity model. (To see Forrester’s latest iteration of this model, see the April 12, 2007, Forrester report "How To Create A Knockout Collaboration Strategy Document.") Some of the most common questions I’ve gotten so far during Forrester’s IT Forum conference are:

  • Which is the right collaboration platform vendor (or, even bigger — the right Information Workplace platform vendor) for us: IBM or Microsoft?
  • How can we build a business case for a collaboration platform?
  • How can we change the corporate culture to be more collaborative and make use of collaboration tools IT rolls out?
  • What is the best practice process by which companies create collaboration strategies?
  • What do we need to consider as we plan to implement an effective role-based, personalized workspace on a corporate enterprise portal platform?

Another thing that strikes me is that IT is being tasked not only with making technology decisions, but with developing business strategy documents and changing corporate culture: a far cry from writing code and administering systems!