The four pillars of collaboration

There’s an interesting post comparing the IBM/Lotus and Microsoft collaboration strategies and product line-ups over at the AIIM blog:

IBM and Microsoft both offer quite good collaboration functionality. Which do you go with? That depends on your organization’s approach to messaging and IT infrastructure.

If you have decided that your collaboration strategy will focus on a suite approach as opposed to best-of-breed technologies, then you will most likely take a hard look at IBM and Microsoft to meet your needs. Both IBM and Microsoft have produced a suite of integrated technologies that deliver a collaboration functionality that addresses all four of the collaboration pillars. Microsoft delivers collaboration functionality in a combination of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007/ Exchange and IBM delivers the functionality in a combination of Quickr, Connections, and Lotus Notes/Domino.

I particularly liked the piece as it collates each vendor’s propositions into what it terms ‘the four pillars of collaboration‘:

• The Messaging Pillar enables teams and individuals to communicate and manage their interactions in a formal, auditable manner. This includes email, calendaring, scheduling, and contact management.

• The Real-Time Collaboration Pillar is more focused on ad-hoc communications providing the team with the capability to easily initiate a real-time conversation between one or more individuals. This includes Instant Messaging, Web Conferencing, and Unified Communications capabilities


• The Team Collaboration Pillar provides the content management services that collect, store, and manage the documents that are pertinent to the team’s activity. This can include document management, ad-hoc workflow, and basic project management.


• The final Pillar, Social Networking, represents the newest pillar in the collaboration house. This pillar provides a way for teams and individuals to share knowledge not only within the team, but to be able to reach out to an extended group for their input and feedback. Technologies in the pillar can include Blogs, Wikis, RSS, and Tagging.

It’s always a challenge to articulate how the individual products relate to each other, particularly Lotus Quickr and Connections, in a way that means something to non-technical folks.  While these terms are by no means new, its good to find ways to segment and describe the different forms of collaboration that have proved successful for others…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!