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CEOs call for greater collaboration - can IT help?

Collaboration with business partners and customers is key to the future growth of global business, according to a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

IT analysts expect IT directors and chief information officers to adapt their corporate IT security strategy to support the CEO's plans by opening up networks and IT systems to business partners.

The EIU interviewed 1130 CEOs globally for IBM on their views of the enterprise of the future. Collaboration and partnerships was the focus for 71%, while 38% of CEOs expected to keep work within their organisations.

The report stated, "CEOs told us they are pursuing more collaborative models to gain efficiencies, fend off competitive threats and avoid commoditisation. Their end goal is to offer customers a differentiated value proposition."

Jim Guyette, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, said in the report, "A few years ago, we were a national company now we are a global company. Our integrated supply chain must adapt to meet demand in 50 countries. We are going to have to bring people in from the outside."

IT directors and chief information officers can facilitate collaboration. "Businesses can use structured collaboration like supply chain collaboration together with document sharing and Web 2.0 collaborations to drive innovation across company boundaries," said Dale Vile, managing director at analyst Freeform Dynamics. The IT director and CIO need to provide the necessary network, communications and security infrastructure to support business collaboration.

Vile said, "Greater use of collaboration will mean IT directors need to plan the monitoring and compliance and the security requirements of business collaboration.

The EIU report found that CEOs were prepared to search worldwide for sources of expertise, resources and assets that could help differentiate the business. "Finding the right capabilities is much more important than finding the cheapest," the report stated. CEOs said that centres of excellence needed to be integrated globally so that the best capabilities, knowledge and assets could be used wherever required.

Pharmaceutical giant Ely lilly has developed a business model based on collaboration, which offers a risk-sharing approach to product innovation with business partners. The approach, called Fully Integrated pharmaceutical Network (FIpNet), was used in 2007 in a contract with Nicholas piramal India, where NpIl took on the responsibility for developing one of Ely Lilly's molecules at its own expense, from preclinical work to early clinical trials. If NpIl is successful and the compound reaches the second stage of human testing, Lilly can reacquire it in exchange for certain milestone payments and royalties.


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