Chief Collaboration Officer … who, me?

It took listening to Jacob Morgan, the keynote speaker at Collabosphere, to realize how exciting the future of IT really is. Thanks to him, I got my thinking cap on and started analyzing why someone from an IT organization could be the best candidate for the position of Chief Collaboration Officer. I envision the Chief Collaboration Officer as the liaison between technology, business processes and, most importantly, the human element. All must work together for a company to function effectively.

I graduated as a biomedical engineer, but even before I graduated, I was working as a support engineer manager at an Apple Center. From that moment on, I got immersed in IT.  I have spent the last 20+ years working in IT. I have done it all, from diagnosing and repairing PCs to implementing large scale technology solutions that improved productivity and, ultimately, profitability – all within cross-cultural teams from around the world. Back then, we didn’t have the technology that we have today, so you can imagine how challenging it was to collaborate locally, let alone remotely.

My approach to new technology implementation has always been centered on the all-important human factor. You can have a multimillion-dollar system and Six Sigma processes, but at the end of the day, if end users feel that it does not help them get their work done more efficiently, they will find ways to circumvent the technology.

Systems have to be easy to understand and use. Nowadays they have to be integrated seamlessly with other social platforms and collaborative tools. As technology evolves, we must evolve, too, and become multidisciplinary in order to help our organizations incorporate these new tools.

I think IT directors and CIOs would make ideal Chief Collaboration Officers. Here are some of my reasons:

In-depth knowledge of technology. We are geeks at heart, plain and simple. We are passionate about technology—how it works and what we can do with it to accomplish whatever we want.

We are problem solvers. Beyond the proverbial “please reboot your system” to resolve an immediate unknown issue, we have the critical thinking skills needed to analyze and to see the big picture. We assess, evaluate and come up with several alternative solutions to any given problem. And we can find a “workaround” to any problem while a final solution is being searched and implemented.

We are service-oriented. We love to help others. We support the people that use any kind of technology. We are able to understand their frustrations, their needs and requirements to come up with a better service-oriented architecture that truly works for them and the organization.

This is an amazing time to be in IT, on par with the early days of our love affair with technology. The advent of social networking and other emerging technologies offer new opportunities to connect with customers and profits. Embrace collaboration—make it work and you will be at the forefront of a new way of doing business.

Post by Jason Greenawalt

Jason Greenawalt is an IT professional with over 20 years of experience in technology and business process reengineering. His passion is helping people and organizations to be at their best through the adoption of new technologies. He is currently the Director of Technology @ MGSCOMM. He is married and lives with his wife and children in Miami.