Firms make virtue of the virtual

VIRTUAL TEAMS are becoming an integral part of the corporate world and will soon not just be a luxury but a necessity.

Firms make virtue of the virtual

VIRTUAL TEAMS are becoming an integral part of the corporate world and will soon not just be a luxury but a necessity.

“The way people are working, the way teams are formed to work on projects, means the traditional notion of having people in one physical location is not the way we do things any more,” said Glenn Wightwick, Director of IBM’s Australian Research and Development Labs.

IBM’s Wightwick made a number of predictions obout the skills that will be needed in the future of work and the skills we will all need to develop to remain a desirable employee. “The tooling that supports this virtual world is a whole set of collaborative tools from email and instant messaging, to social networking tools and wikis,” he said.

As more and more companies go global, sophisticated virtual worlds will be imperative to enhance the collaboration of teams when they are working on projects together, he said. Because a lot of communication takes place in subtle ways when people are in the same room or building, companies, he said, will have to develop more sophisticated systems to operate effectively.

“It takes a lot of effort because a lot of communication happens through various subtle forms when you’re physically together. So we’re finding you need a rich set of tools to enable people to continue to be productive,” he said.

Beehive is one such example of a tool IBM uses to enhance virtual communication.

“Beehive is a tool in IBM where people can put information about themselves – personal information, such as photos of their family etc. So when you’re working with someone in the US or wherever you can get a bit more context about the person,” he said.

“You would have picked that stuff up when you had coffee with them or when you’re sitting next to them. These tools are very important to develop a level of integration across teams that are very important to get them working collaboratively and get problems solved”

The way of the future is a hybrid set of technologies according to Wightwick:

“I don’t think there is going to be any single technology or set of technologies that works for everybody. You need a number of technologies and teams will self select the best set they might use for their projects.

“If you have a lot more younger people they’ll probably head down the social networking route. Other teams will find that collaborating and storing info via wikis are the way to go,” he said.

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