The idea of a maturity model is not new, and I’ve seen a number of these related to SOA, Information management, and Service Management. However, I couldn’t locate much around Collaboration. I did find a number of discussions that showed an evolution of sorts around tool types and then I stumbled on this.
As you can see, it doesn’t provide much context. However, I did like it for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it wasn’t looking at the subject as an evolution of product functionality – rather an evolution of behaviour. This aligns similarly with the other approaches I’ve seen, but it also identifies that (as with most areas in life) maturity is a reflection of behaviour appropriate to the situation. What it lacked however is more detail into how people might experience these levels differently, and what the journey along the maturity scale would require.
In other words, an organisation may conclude that it is probably ‘Tools Oriented’ but why – just because it tends to be application centric? I’m not convinced that this is anywhere near sufficient. Secondly, if an organisation has a strategic desire to move up that maturity level, then how do they get to a position where they are ready to comfortably work within a ‘Knowledge Repository’ way? This is not just a conceptual migration path, but one grounded in infrastructure requirements, cultural implications, and an understanding and commitment by leadership to do things differently.
A bit more understanding of the following ideas would help understand each maturity level to a much greater extent:
Information Types: What sort of information is being conveyed? Is it structured, referential, rich, media based?
Scope: How many people are affected by, or bought into this approach? This could be a one-to-one interaction, or alternatively based on role (e.g. sales), task (e.g. submit expenses), or self defined communities.
Communities: What would a community look like using this approach? It could be a community of one where I simply keep all my information to myself, and we all have information stores that satisfy that category. It could be a well-defined (and private) community with as few as three people, or it could be an all-encompassing community that grows or shrinks on an hourly basis.
Information Persistence: How relevant is the information being communicated? How long should it be kept? Is it for public consumption?
Integration Points : How much interaction takes place with other systems? Security is relevant here. What is used to allow that integration? How standards based are these links?
Connectivity: At the lowest level, no one connects to any other, whereas at the highest level, everyone is connected to everyone else. Social Network analysts would call this ‘Density’. It’s the dynamics of connectivity such as people who are hubs and outliers that really bring the value of collaboration to the fore.
And finally, how do each of these align to the maturity levels?
|Base Level||Information Types||Mostly structured, some rich media|
|Scope||Individual contacts. The world revolves about you.|
|Communities||Relies on an individual’s ability to manage contacts and make conceptual connections between them to create value.|
|Information Persistence||Often non-existent, unreliable, time and access dependent|
|Integration Points||Often non-existent|
|Tools Level||Information Types||Mostly structured, some application specific constructs (e.g. XML), some rich media|
|Scope||Teams and task oriented behaviour|
|Communities||Constrained, static, functionally limited|
|Information Persistence||Application dependent, non-standard|
|Integration Points||Some through standards, bespoke and application gateways|
|Knowledge Repositories||Information Types||Defined by nature of user experience|
|Scope||Role, special interest|
|Information Persistence||Assumed to be long term and growing|
|Integration Points||Primarily standards based|
|Connectivity||High density – multiple memberships|
|Collaboration and Integration||Information Types||Complete convergent experience. Device independent.|
|Scope||Community – ‘networked individualism’|
|Communities||Tribal – ephemeral to decades|
|Information Persistence||Minutes to decades|
|Integration Points||Standards based, enterprise linked|
|Connectivity||High density, self organising|
What else occurs as maturity increases?
Security Flexibility: Increases as a function of maturity. That doesn’t mean that security is less important, but rather that the nature of information being shared, and the resultant ability to promote innovation must be balanced. Not all information, and not all interactions are the same, so why use a standard security model which assumes that they are?
Community Life: Decreases as a function of maturity. Many more communities, more Darwinian in nature. Useful/popular communities thrive and evolve, and unused ones die out. At lower levels of maturity, the communities are by nature more well defined, and therefore last longer. However, their community impact is lower as they touch fewer people.
Push versus Always-On: Increases as a function of maturity. At the lower levels, communication is generally user driven such as ‘Send this mail’, or ‘Check my feeds’. At the highest levels, the opportunities to proactively drive content out to the user base is pervasive. This is highly context sensitive as well. For example, linking a GPS position with your data in a dating system such as likes and dislikes could notify you that a potential romantic partner is coming directly toward you on a street. The same system could notify the other person as well.
Creativity & Innovation: Increases as a function of maturity. With many different styles to communicating, a broad user base will choose their own set of tools. However, the information to a great extent is an underlying asset to most of these. Twitter for example, can feed into Facebook, and LinkedIn, and people who would never ‘tweet’ would still gain from those interactions. The choice of user response and how they interpret the information in the context of their interface is what helps drive creativity and information.
Collaboration medium life cycle: Decreases as a function of maturity. At the lower levels, tools are developed in a traditional manner to allow aspects of collaboration to take place (e.g. mail client, instant messaging client) and collaboration is a side effect of the interface. At the highest levels, collaboration is he product, and a multitude of functional widgets are used and connected creatively to facilitate this. Modern email clients are incorporating this mind-set and the edges are blurring. However, in doing so, they cease to be a pure email client, and more of a collaboration platform, which is a more mature deliverable. Widgets are developed quickly, and tested against collaborative use cases. Those that thrive survive, and those that don’t won’t. It is the long tail in action.
So how does this look as a single image?