Integration and collaboration a hard nut to crack!

Martin Farley at the Collaboration Rogue blog has written an interesting piece on the challenges facing anyone contemplating integrating a new collaborative platform with an existing system.

From the introduction to the blog post "One of the most difficult stumbling blocks to any new approach to working is how to integrate your new system with old/legacy systems. By “systems” I mean both technology and working practices/culture and will deal with both"

As Martin explains traditionally new platforms have been engineered so that they're built into or "grafted" on to legacy platforms. This isn't necessarily the best approach as Martin indicates. "The reluctance to let go of old systems will probably be your main obstacle to progress, so you should be prepared to ignore calls to make it fit “the way we do things here"

So what approach should Knowledge Managers and IT be taking when it comes to integrating collaborative platforms with legacy platforms? Martin outlines two potential approaches to how collaborative platforms can be integrated within existing platforms without having to spend siginficant amounts of time or money on developing a solution:

Collaborative tools..."don’t always require formal integration into current technologies. Using RSS, folksonomic tags, iframes, smartphone apps and a range of other connectivity tools, you are often able to integrate the information on different systems without them having to be formally connected"

"Because they are primarily user-led, they can lead integration and change, forcing legacy systems to catch up with them (rather than trying to augment/improve legacy systems)"

In his conclusion Martin writes something which I believe is very important when thinking about how you can use collaborative tools "Ultimately, where collaboration is concerned, succesful integration will be about co-ordinating with legacy systems, not connecting to them" this is so important to remember, especially where you might have a well established and well used Intranet, you need to work with it to enhance the way individuals are working rather then provide another platform which might just end up neglected.