The rise of globalization has led to increased connectivity among organizations; which could be highly viable in enhancing global collaboration in the invention of new products. Communication channels have improved greatly such that people can easily share ideas over the internet and eventually come up with innovative products. Furthermore, organizations can coordinate resources in order to benefit from each other through collaboration in investment. Accordingly, a new strategy labeled global collaboration has emerged and has proved quite effective in producing inventing products. Besides organizational collaboration it is also notable that consumers play an imperative role in global innovation through what has been referred to as 'prosumption'. Their reviews and suggestions aid companies in coming up with better innovations. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and as companies seek to reduce costs while coming up with innovative products, the notion of collaboration is highly imperative.
The importance of global collaboration in inventing goods is gaining popularity, with organizations increasingly involving themselves in joint innovation endeavors. In what has been referred to as wikinomics, companies can work together towards a common course in order to improve profitability for their businesses (Fenn, 2009). Scientists, software companies, manufacturing companies and automobile manufacturers among industries have utilized mass collaboration to encourage innovation. According to Tapscott and Williams (2007), collaboration cannot be considered a new aspect, given that men are depicted as social animals. The depth and breadth of collaboration has however changed leading to the manner in which people interact (Olson, 2009). Tools available in the modern world empower people in such a way that they can take part in the global economy in a way that would not have occurred several decades ago. The internet for example has allowed for the establishment of interactive forums between producers and consumers, thus creating prosumer communities, which have played a significant role in advancing innovation.
Globalization has transformed the world and is indeed the force behind effective global collaboration (Min et al, 2005). Globalization has united the world into one global village where geographical distance has been deemed almost inexistent as communication channels become increasingly sophisticated (Marcum, 2006). The internet allows people around the world to access and share information that is highly useful in business development today. Accordingly, the concept of global collaboration can be considered an achievable undertaking due to the ease in which information is transferred. According to Tapscott and Williams (2007), companies from allover the world can easily work together to come up with innovative products through sharing ideas and resources; which are easily transferable from one organization to another due to the positive impact of globalization. This means that global collaboration is bound to improve as organizations seek to gain the benefits.
The increasing popularity of global collaboration has led to the emergence of different techniques that companies can use to gain new ideas and thus lead to the innovation of high quality products. These techniques mostly encompass company association incentives and collaboration with customers to enhance value of products. There are different themes in global collaboration or the concept of wikinomics. They are discussed as follows.
Peering refers to the collaboration of similar companies and is being highly encouraged so as to help companies in developing innovative products. Peering denotes situations where volunteer companies organize themselves to produce goods and services in what is known as peer production (Lauer, 2008). In such a case, the experienced and skilled members become team leaders and integrate the members' contributions into the production process. In essence, it does not allow freedom for all as it may be perceived due to its definition. A company may choose to start its own group and thereby become a leader or become part of an existing group (Daugherty, 2006).
There are a number of advantages associated with peering. To begin with, peering allows self-selection such that the collaborating parties can define various characteristics and values that they intend to maintain (Schneider, 2006). Furthermore, the best qualified parties volunteer to do the job as opposed to where there are hierarchically organized communities. Secondly, motivation is highly prevalent in peering settings. Parties are likely to be more enthusiastic about what they do such that participation level is high and so is the efficiency, thus leading to desirable outcomes (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). Peering is highly effective where the job can be broken down into various components and handled by different members (Lauer, 2008). This denotes that it may not be useful in situations where the work is central or where there is a central business model. It is especially useful where a company's efforts have not worked in the past such that collaboration may prove to be cheaper. Another advantage of peering is that it enhances external talent. According to Tapscott and Williams (2007), it is very difficult for one company to effectively develop new innovations in different industries, such that peering allows them to save costs while coming up with more innovations. Peering communities also allow for value creation which could play a significant role in advancing demand. According to Schneider, (2006), peer production has a huge potential, a factor that is mostly determined by various catalyzing factors. These include computer and applications use, globalization, knowledge and skills decentralization, transparency and increased use of information technology systems.
Ideagoras generally represents an ideas 'market place'. It is a system in which ideas and knowledge can be shared in order to achieve common objectives (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). This notion originates from the fact that internal research and development within companies may not allow for efficient and speedy solution to problems as opposed to where a diverse network of skills and talent is present. Ideagoras are classified into two categories. The first one is the "solutions in search of questions" while the other is "questions in need to solutions" (Lauer, 2008). The first category represents ideas that have not been utilized, mostly because they do not fit into the company's strategy or brand. Accordingly, they may not yield any business value unless the company finds a way of utilizing them. The second category symbolizes problems that are yet to be addressed, either because of inadequate financial resources, lack of expertise, timing and other internal limitations.
Ideogras is highly important in global business as it allows companies to have wider options. Instead of developing every idea and technology within the company, they can easily utilize ideas shared from other companies in the market (Olson, 2009). Ideagoras also involves the licensing of technology such that firms may benefit through licensing technology instead of commercializing goods. It is imperative however that companies do not desert their R&D efforts because a firm may lose bargaining power if they do not have inventions and ideas of their own.
Global plant floor
The notion of a global plant floor is an aspect of global collaboration that encourages companies to involve entities and people across the globe in the production process (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). Firms are benefiting by forming trust relations with external collaborations. This way, vibrant business ecosystems are likely to be formed thus creating value to the businesses involved (Schneider, 2006). A global plant floor ensures that small scale producers have an opportunity to produce largely through the application of technology and collaboration, thus achieving milestones that were previously a preserve of the large scale manufacturers (Fenn, 2009). While this is most prevalent in software development, authors predict that this may soon be applied to physical goods thus giving individuals an opportunity to gain from global trade. In order to succeed, companies need to place a critical focus on motivated partners who are also efficient in their areas of expertise. A major advantage of global plant floors is that it reduces costs in a significant manner due to the sharing of risks (Daugherty, 2006). Companies could therefore benefit greatly through this type of global collaboration so as to improve efficiency. In order to improve continuity, companies must continually open themselves to contributions from other avenues outside their boundaries.
The involvement of consumers in the development of goods is one of the major aspects of global collaboration. Tapscott and Williams (2007) note that producers and customers have joined to form what is known as 'prosumers'. This allows consumers to co-create goods and services as opposed to simply consuming the products provided to them. Accordingly, consumers are increasingly getting involved in co-invention and co-production of the products that they consume through giving reviews and making suggestions on what would better satisfy them (Daugherty et al, 2006). This has been enhanced by the internet popularity which has led to the formation of prosumer communities online (Brown & Boulderstone, 2008). The producers share information related to products; employ commerce; engage in customized project collaboration and exchange tools, tips and product hacks. Prosumption has changed the concept of production from the development of finished goods to the development of innovation ecosystems which goes beyond customization of products (Fenn, 2009). By applying this concept of global collaboration, a dynamic scenario to enhance growth and innovation is likely to be established. Companies must however be cautious in applying presumption. Brown and Boulderstone (2008) note that by giving consumers unlimited freedom to hack, the company may risk losing control of the program and thus risk the cannibalization of its business model. On the contrary, limiting users' liberty may keep away potentially viable innovation ideas.
As the internet use becomes increasingly popular, the use of blogs, wikis and other tools among employees have emerged as useful strategies for enhancing global collaboration (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). Notably, employees are form departmental and organizational boundaries where tight employment are created. These are then developed into self-organized human capital networks that combine knowledge and resources both within and outside the firm. Such social softwares provide favorable grounds for leveraging knowledge, which can then be utilized to enhance product development (Lauer, 2008). Experiences can also be shared over the internet thus promoting innovation.
This type of strategy also allows flexibility and the elimination of monolithic workplaces which are often undesirable (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). The method is also efficient because real problems can be addressed quickly through direct communication between participating parties. Furthermore, the internet allows the employees to chat and send instant messages such that proactive measures can be taken whenever a problem arises (Marcum, 2006). This makes the use of wiki workplaces more effective in enhancing global collaboration. It is however notable that wiki workplaces should be approached with care in order to ensure that the organization's focus is not lost and that employees engage in constructive interactions.
Pros of global collaboration
Global collaboration in innovation presents a great deal of advantages for organizations involved. Cost cutting and better outcomes have been emphasized by the proponents of collaboration (Olson, 2009). Collaboration in product innovation could play a significant role in cutting production costs thus improving profitability levels for the companies involved (Olson, 2009). Furthermore, lower costs could mean that the products can be offered at lower prices; which would in turn increases the demand for these goods (Lauer, 2008). The integration costs are reasonably low especially in peering where companies may share resources and divide costs among themselves.
Global collaboration leads to the development of highly innovative goods, which further enhances marketability. As many would attest, 'two heads a better than one' and this is a notion that renders global collaboration effective in producing quality products. Pooling of resources and skills ensures that companies can work in an efficient manner to produce quality products (Marcum, 2006). Sharing of resources for example assures that a firm does not produce poor quality products as a result of shortage of certain types of resources. Sharing of skills also brings together effective ideas such that the best are used in enhancing production.
Tapscott and Williams (2007) note that the level of knowledge and skills diffused during global collaboration plays a significant in enhancing efficiency. The same is echoed by Olson (2009), who notes that such knowledge is bound to increase the productivity of the firm thus promoting profitability. It is highly improbable that a company can possess all the skills and knowledge that are required in the innovation process. In this respect therefore, companies that utilize global collaboration often benefit through increased knowledge and better outcomes as more informed suggestions and decisions are implemented (Min et al, 2005).
Cons of global collaboration
Despite the valuable benefits associated with global collaboration in innovating new products, there are issues of concern which threaten such endeavors. A major fear that engulfs the idea of global collaboration is the anticipated conflict in intellectual property concerns (Schneider, 2006). This results from the need to identify how a jointly developed property can be patented. It may bring conflicts between the companies involved and thereby impact on the usability of the new product. Challenges could also be evident in the sharing of resources where some organizations may feel they are contributing more than others thus raising issues of unfair collaboration. Issues emanating from the distribution of costs may also limit the success level of global collaboration endeavors hence the need to establish proper rules to govern collaboration relationship (Wong, 2003). As noted by Tapscott and Williams (2007), the relationship forged between the involved parties should be based on trust in order to ensure that the collaboration works well. Lack of trust would lead to deleterious effects as parties disagree and engage in finger-pointing whenever challenges are encountered. Lastly, improper planning may result in huge losses where the companies spend huge costs in transferring resources from one country to another.
The inspiration of global collaboration in innovation of goods is undoubtedly a viable endeavor that could lead to the production of high quality goods that would otherwise not be produced by individual organizations. Through various collaborations techniques such as the use of a global plant floor and prosumers, organizations may benefit from better innovations thus promoting their profit potential. Globalization emerges as a major force behind global collaboration in the invention of goods. It can be established that the ease in communication channels has led to easier sharing of ideas and resources thus promoting the possibility of global collaboration. While global collaboration is effective however, it is notable that there are various negative issues such as challenges in obtaining patents, sharing of resources and costs. The use of global collaboration in inventing new products therefore needs to be conducted with a high level of caution.