Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The impact of network effects on collaboration

As stated before, I believe in collaboration and collaborative efforts in developing positions and driving topics. In other words, I believe in the wisdom of crowds. For effective collaboration the appropriate tools are needed. What is, of course, embarrassing is when network effects lead to a severe impact on collaboration and exclude people from participating in the collaborative effort and from the information.

It happened to me again the other day when trying join a meeting. As mentioned several tims in my blog I run a Linux operating system. For this meeting a collaboration session had been set up, but when trying to join I got the following message:

This is a typical network effect due to a lack of interoperability. The collaboration tool is designed to work with certain OS and browsers. And people who happen to use these technologies don't actually reflect much about it. They take it for granted. So no blame on those who set up the meeting. That's the ugly thing about network effects.

What is needed is genuine interoperability, not just intra-operability. This will avoid effects that you can only use one tool if you have a specific OS or vice versa. Imagine a situation where you can participate in a telephone conference only if you use a phone from a specific company or have signed up with a specific phone network operator. Everybody would reject this - and rightly so. Network effects of that kind manifest lock-in situations and prevent fair and open competition and negatively impact business decisions on which OS or which SW to choose. In other words, software interoperability is critical the more me move into the age of networked economies and societies.

1 comment:

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