Collaboration is becoming a dominant feature of globally competitive econ-omies. It has become an essential component for any innovative company's strategy to succeed in the marketplace, especially those that don't have the advantage of lost-cost labour or large domestic markets.
Government departments are also learning how to work with each other and with players in other sectors to achieve their mandates, after years of toiling in self-imposed silos. Cross-sectoral collaboration has become so important that organizations whose task it is to encourage such activity have been dubbed fourth pillars, whether that activity involves communications (CANARIE), microsystems (CMC Microsystems) or intelligent systems (Precarn).
In the private sector, collaboration can cut the time required to understand customer needs and develop market-based solutions to fit those requirements. Bell Canada's network of Innovation Centres is a cogent case in point (see lead article).
Canada's largest telecommunications services firm is responding to dramatic changes in the marketplace by reaching out to vendors, complementary firms and third parties to meet the rapidly evolving needs of customers.
Without customers, any product or service, no matter how innovative, is doomed to failure. As Dr Doug Barber has stated on many occasions, he's never met a market that could write a cheque. Bell's approach is designed to ensure sustained revenue flow at a time when traditional markets are drying up. It's a critical part of doing business in the 21st Century.