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Changes in the collaboration landscape

There have been big changes in the collaboration landscape since the last Use & Misuse guide was published in 2006. Collaboration can now have the scale of the web. Many hundreds of millions of people now use tools such as Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and the habit is spreading to the workplace. Increasingly firms large and small are implementing social media tools that include discussion forums, blogs, micro-blogging, tagging and profiles. Increasingly, too, these tools are used not just internally, but with suppliers and customers.

What has not changed is the fundamental mantra of our advice to all users of collaboration technologies: First, engage brain. Then explicitly choose the tool and the message. This matters even more now that the scale and the domain of collaboration have expanded, because your audience may no longer be just people on your team or in your firm. Depending on the tool, it could be the whole world. And what you say online may persist forever.

Collaboration and collaboration technologies have taken on a much greater importance in the enterprise. However, remember that collaboration is still a means, not an end in itself. Excellence in technology use must be accompanied by clarity of purpose.