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Virtual Collaboration for a Distributed Enterprise

Virtual Collaboration for a Distributed Enterprise

Amado Cordova
Kirsten M. Keller
Lance Menthe
Carl Rhodes
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 42
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  • Book Info
    Virtual Collaboration for a Distributed Enterprise
    Book Description:

    The geographic diversity of many military enterprises, their partners, and their customers has made virtual collaboration vital to their daily operations. However, virtual collaboration can pose challenges to effective team communication, as well as building cohesiveness and trust among team members. This report addresses these challenges through an assessment of three modes of virtual collaboration: computer-mediated communication, audioconferencing, and videoconferencing.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8334-0
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Summary
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. 1. The Need for Effective Virtual Collaboration
    (pp. 1-2)

    This report examines the need for effective virtual collaboration among military intelligence enterprises that comprise multiple sites distributed over a wide geographic area, such as the area of responsibility (AOR) of a Combatant Command (COCOM), a country (e.g., Afghanistan), or the entire globe. In this report, we use the word “enterprise” to refer to an organization with wide geographic distribution that performs intelligence analysis in support of military operations. In addition to interacting and communicating among themselves, personnel at these enterprises’ individual sites must also engage in daily interactions with partners located elsewhere (e.g., RPA pilots and sensor operators located...

  8. 2. The Impact of Different Types of Virtual Collaboration on Team Dynamics and Team Effectiveness
    (pp. 3-4)

    In broad terms,virtual collaborationcan be defined as the act of working together across boundaries of space, time, and organization, aided by tools and technology.⁴ What distinguishes virtual collaboration from ordinary collaboration, or teaming, is that virtual collaboration uses tools and technology to create some form of shared space (some would say shared awareness) that allows participants to interact, to some extent, as though they were physically in the same place at the same time—that is, the participants can hear each other, see each other, and/or exchange pictures and notes. Common virtual collaboration tools include computer-mediated communication, audioconferencing,...

  9. 3. Computer-Mediated Communication
    (pp. 5-10)

    Computer-mediated communication consists of a variety of technologies and techniques that do not involve real-time audio or visual communication; data conferencing is another term sometimes used for this category. Online discussion boards, chat rooms, and email are all considered forms of computer-mediated communication.⁹

    In particular, many organizations rely heavily on Internet relay chat (IRC)¹⁰ rooms for realtime (i.e., synchronous) communication.¹¹ This communication medium is also generally referred to simply as chat or mIRC chat.¹² There have also been recent advances in computer-mediated communication, including the creation of virtual worlds, such as Linden Lab’s Second Life and Forterra’s On-Line Interactive Virtual...

  10. 4. Audioconferencing
    (pp. 11-14)

    Audioconferencing is the oldest of the three types of virtual collaboration tools and has evolved from simple one-on-one phone calls to complex systems that can handle hundreds of callers from many locations. Methods vary from having a few large sites where team members gather in conference rooms to each caller using his or her own line. The real-time audio of participants is the primary mode of communication, which may be supplemented by shared text or graphics. Such visual information-sharing is commonly done with predistributed documents, but other software solutions (also known as groupware) can enable shared document editing or whiteboarding...

  11. 5. Videoconferencing
    (pp. 15-18)

    Videoconferencing, while it has been around for decades, has until recently been plagued by issues related to image quality and other technical problems. Now that videoconferencing technology has improved, and the technological requirements (cameras, software, and bandwidth) for the real-time, simultaneous transmission of video and audio data have decreased enough in cost, videoconferencing facilities are commonplace in many business and academic settings. Today, providers of “virtual presence” solutions, such as Polycom, sell everything from a 16-foot-wide video wall down to an ordinary office telephone with a built-in camera and video display.

    The traditional videoconferencing setup occupies a dedicated space outfitted...

  12. 6. Evaluating the Performance of Virtual Collaboration Tools
    (pp. 19-20)

    The relationship between virtual collaboration tools and team performance or effectiveness is not necessarily simple. The ultimate impact of virtual collaboration tools on team effectiveness is due primarily to the impact these tools have on basic team processes, such as the quality of communication and the development of trust, which together influence team effectiveness.⁴⁷ In addition, different types of virtual collaboration tools may be better suited for different tasks, such as providing routine updates versus deciding on an important course of action. Similarly, the impact of certain tools on team effectiveness may also depend on time constraints or the extent...

  13. 7. Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 21-24)

    In this report, we discussed three modes of virtual collaboration: computer-mediated communication, audioconferencing, and videoconferencing. For ease of presentation, we have discussed these options as separate choices, but the reality is more complex. Computer-mediated communication can be integrated with both audioconferencing and videoconferencing. In fact, many web conference systems now employ such integration. Moreover, intelligence personnel must often multitask and thus may be involved in more than one virtual collaborative session at a time. For example, Air Force intelligence personnel are now able to listen in to audio conversations between pilots and sensor operators on headsets while also communicating in...

  14. References
    (pp. 25-30)