Sharing info still a struggle

Tourism Vancouver required new methods of collaboration, even though it doesn’t own or produce anything.

According to Ted Lee, Tourism Vancouver’s chief financial officer, the organization promotes, compiles and repurposes travel and hotel information from approximately 1,000 organizations across the Greater Vancouver Area. Lee was speaking at the Microsoft Canada Co.-sponsored Canadian Collaboration Summit in Toronto last month.

Vancouver is gearing up for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics. It means that Tourism Vancouver will be tripling its current capacity, Lee said, and that meant technology and business process changes were needed, not only for the Olympics, but also towards adding capacity to Vancouver’s convention centre. Last December the organization announced it was rolling out Exchange Server 2003.

The goal was to connect the dots when dealing with large amounts of content and to make collaboration easier using tools such as versioning control. Along the way the firm continues to look for ways to improve efficiency and support overall business growth.

Another speaker, Sean Creaghan, vice-president of business development with Petaluma, Calif.-based Project Management Practice, said the technology solutions provider is currently achieving approximately US$80,000 in productivity gains per year. Previously the company was dealing with several different calendaring and online communication tools.

E-mail was becoming an issue due to file compatibility and attachment limits, Creaghan said. With a mobile and geographically distributed workforce and customers based in Asia, Europe and North America, adding the new collaborative capability has improved client interaction, Creaghan said. After switching Internet providers several times in an attempt to find the best way to share content, the company migrated to a solution based on Microsoft’s Small Business Server and Office System.

According to research firm IDC Corp., e-mail is still the number one collaboration tool organizations use. Mike Bulmer, product manager, Microsoft Office System, Microsoft Canada advised companies to shift from point products to a more collaborative strategy based on a standard set of tools. Deborah Compeau, associate professor, Richard Ivey School of Business, said the push for faster and cheaper product delivery is also driving a different model for collaboration.

In the past, it was difficult to build a business case for collaboration, the London, Ont.-based Compeau said, adding that technology advances and new organization models are opening up new ways to communicate within the enterprise.

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