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Meenakshi Agrawal


Meenakshi Agrawal
Mumbai International Airport
Meenakshi Agrawal is VP - IT, Mumbai International Airport. She has over 25 years experience in Information Technology, of which 19 years was with the EMIRATES GROUP in Dubai. During her tenure she was heading the Airport Vertical which  worked on  IT solutions for  Emirates Airlines and DNATA the ground handler. Closely involved In the implementation of the new Terminal T3 at Dubai,  she was a key stakeholder and spearheaded the IT needs of DNATA  and Emirates.  She and the team ensured T3 was as smooth a take-off as possible. Since June 2010 , she has relocated to India and is currently working as Vice President IT with Mumbai International Airport. With her vast experience and strategic vision she has taken Mumbai Airport forward on many fronts including   passenger tracking and an innovative ‘First’ for India ….an application   for mobiles  providing real-time flight notifications. Another important ‘first’ for Airports in India … Being the ‘first’ Indian Airport to take on the Social media challenge.

The term Collaborations appeals to all, employers and employees. The thought that technology can be used to expand our powers for communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing amongst a social Eco-system, be it a company, a group or just a significant number of people. Variously dubbed as Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, and social media, this new wave brings together various technologies. what do these mean and are these themes to be taken seriously by the CIO world ?

If Collaboration is simply an English term which brings together people, then these technologies are all about connecting people to ideas. As with many collaboration technologies, social software first gained popularity in the consumer world, and is only now starting to make its way into business and educational organizations. Preceded by a collection of Web 2.0 technologies like wikis, blogs, micro-blogs, RSS feeds, and tagging, social software has evolved to enable people to share knowledge, contribute opinions, and participate in virtual communities of interest. Social Software has already eclipsed email as one of the most popular communication means in the social world. Along the way, it has sparked an age of participation in which people have more power than ever before using You Tube, face book, twitter, Linked In etc. Its like everything is anybodys business. These technologies when transferred to a business environment can usher in a new era of business productivity.

When having intranet employee portals and discussion forums and shared project documents is not enough for a business and the organizations goal is more than simply improved knowledge management, thats when Enterprise Collaboration tools begin.

One feels the need to improve the efficiency of unstructured processes. Social software must integrate with existing communications and business systems, and provide end-users with an integrated experience that removes the inefficiency inherent in switching between multiple silos applications, albeit through a single portal. This desire for a solution that provides an integrated user experience is driving a new class of applications called enterprise collaboration platforms or solutions.

So far productivity has been achieved through business process automation alone .Today, however, business leaders cannot achieve the growth and innovation they want from further transactional automation alone. In this era, new productivity gains will come from increasing the efficiency of unstructured processes - processes that depend on human interactions. This is why collaboration has emerged as a top priority for CIOs.

Traditional collaborative technologies that are document and text centric are no longer enough to drive innovation and productivity.Collaboration now encompasses video and voice capabilities as well as text- and document-centric tools.

Further given that traditional collaborative technologies such as email, web portals, and telephony are not going away, business needs ways to integrate all these into seamless business driven solutions

Further, expectations have changed. Employees, customers, and partners exist in the world of instant, real-time communications, and everyone expects as-close-to-instant access to people and information as possible. Just ask todays college students how often they leave a SMS, in phone message, or even check their face book, and the new importance of social software, combined with real-time communications, becomes clear.

Finally, teams have changed. In the past, teams were based on organizational hierarchies and individual projects inside the company. Now employees now routinely work with people outside their teams. Over time, as individual expertise becomes increasingly documented and exposed to other employees, teams will form more dynamically and will be comprised of an increasingly diverse and dispersed set of participants

Gartner believes 2010 will see more firms keep aside a significant portion of IT investment into ECP.

If Enterprise Collaboration is surely in then what is important is How and When to embark on the journey and not, if one should.

As always, a strong recommendation of mine is to articulate and begin with business goals. Analysts estimate that more than half of enterprises that begin with Enterprise Collaboration deployments fail because of a lack of connection to business objectives. So, whether it is in improving innovation, being able to take on more corporate priorities, improving access to expertise or specialists, reducing communications and travel costs,decreasing time to market or increasing customer satisfaction, the goal should be clear.

Logically following that is the clear business case.. Build a business case.This is most efficiently done in the context of business processes, where its easier to see where inefficiencies and bottleneck succor. By using social software in combination with your existing enterprise systems and business applications, you can measure improvements in these processes. Pilot deployments are a must and may serve as compelling business cases.

Technology is only one piece of the equation. Driving the adoption of a fundamentally new way of working, this requires commitment on a cultural and change-management level as well and as usual senior level drive and sponsorship is required.

So what can we expect, the enterprises of the next few years should see a rise in blogs, team spaces, discussion forums, micro blogging, wikis as well as video conferencing and UC tools etc.

But is this all rosy? I believe the risks are significant and an aggressive approach is to be avoided especially in the Indian context of :

· Security of data, What should be shared with whom, should our information be kept within the enterprise, or be seen externally etc..

·Who should see what …Policies and Governance is so much more difficult to implement when the tools are all about free and transparent sharing

· Productivity:double edged?? I still have doubts on whether it   improves productivity or actually does not. What if the employees time which today is only interrupted by email and calls is now interrupted by tweets and wikis and rating others posts?

· Readiness? From the user population to embrace this, Can we really enforce adoption of these in an Indian context?

Readiness from an Infrastructure perspective, can our networks and data centers handle the influx in traffic to sufficiently meet a variety of rich, bandwidth-intensive applications and services, including Unified communications, real-time&analytic, social graph management, activity streams,Micro blogging, wikis and social networking, as well as pervasive video sharing and streaming.

The answers to all this could be varied and risks in each organization different.

In Summary my thoughts are not to under rate the utility and necessity of these tools, however caveats are

· Adopt with a business goal in mind

· Do it step-by-step with a POC deployment first and not             aggressively

· If possible baseline and measure improvements

· Employee productivity related benefits to be questioned and      monitored carefully to ensure the initiative does not spiral out of control.