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E-Collaboration ( English electronic collaboration - " electronic collaboration " ) stands for a multitude of measures for the decentralized computer-aided collaboration of temporally or spatially separated teams and groups. Tools such as e-mail , calendars and, at the latest, wikis and blogs have established themselves in several stages . These tools (e-collaboration tools) are often used by teams that do not work at the same time or in the same place, but on a common task or project.

Areas of application

E-Collaboration can be used in the private or in the corporate environment.

In the private environment (e.g. studies, school, club work), free, web-based tools are usually used for e-collaboration, such as B. Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). They serve for communication and interaction between those involved.

In companies, e-collaboration is understood as the electronic and networked collaboration along their value chain. The tools used are structured and used in a targeted manner in order to optimize the flow of information in the company. When implementing e-collaboration, strategy, culture and information management must be taken into account. Wirtz and Vogt assume three levels of e-collaboration.

  1. Communication and interaction
  2. Commercial transaction
  3. Value and partner integration

The first level of communication and interaction has already been covered. Electronic payment processing is an example of commercial interaction; for value and partner integration, the integrated planning of the supply chain (eSupply Chain Management) is an example.


First generation

In this first generation of e-collaboration, tools that are already established were mainly used. This primarily includes e-mail, telephone and calendar. These tools have been in use for a long time, but have not been summarized under the term e-collaboration.

Second generation

The focus of the second generation is on the topic of even closer cooperation. This brought about tools such as instant messaging , document management, project management tools and desktop sharing, as well as whiteboards and online meetings.

Third generation

Visualization of the collaborative work using the example of the Wiki project Math for Non-Freaks

With the third generation came not only new tools, but also new approaches, as well as a greater importance of synchronous collaboration. This was particularly influenced by the development towards social software and Web 2.0 . Above all, this means expanding the number of people addressed in order to expand one's own knowledge. Anyone who can and wants to contribute to the topic can be used. Tools of this generation include tagging, RSS feeds, tag clouds, profiles and social networking, blogs, social bookmarking and wikis.


Three dimensions for the categorization of e-collaboration can be identified:

  • Time (synchronous / asynchronous collaboration)
  • Type of communication (messaging, sharing, conferencing and virtual workspaces)
  • Number of transmitters and receivers (1: 1, 1: n, n: 1, n: m)

Categorization in the context of project work

  • needs
    • information
    • support
    • relationship
  • Working mode
    • initialization
    • execution
    • Troubleshooting
    • Conflict resolution

Requirements for the use of e-collaboration in companies

In the private environment, e-collaboration is used because the user is usually aware of the advantages and knows the method. In order to be able to use e-collaboration effectively in a company, various conditions must be met. These conditions can be divided into strategic, organizational and technical requirements.

Strategic and organizational requirements

Where knowledge was previously kept to oneself, knowledge should now be shared. This often turns out to be problematic, as employees appreciate having knowledge available anytime and anywhere, but often shy away from contributing to it. This can have various reasons. For one thing, some employees are afraid of being exposed if they share their knowledge. Others, however, fear that they will make themselves superfluous or that internal project data will fall into the wrong hands. To avoid these fears, communication is very important.

With implementation management, you can begin to sensitize employees to the topic and let them participate in decisions about development and use even before the respective tools are introduced. Because a tool that the employees deal with in advance and that they have introduced with, achieves faster success than tools determined purely by management. In addition, training courses are advisable which make it easier for employees who have not yet had any experience with web-based tools to familiarize themselves with the new system.

A particularly critical point is to motivate the individual to write content or to stimulate discussions, because only then can added value arise. The fear of punishment or embarrassment is great. This must be deliberately taken away from employees by the management positions.

Technical requirements

Many of the collaboration tools are web-based, so that a secure, high-performance and consistent network connection is required. In video conferencing z. B. a high network bandwidth is required because a lot of data is transported at the same time.

Furthermore, all persons involved should be provided with their own computer workstation. It is advisable to create homogeneous IT prerequisites throughout the company in order to avoid version conflicts, for example.


E-collaboration makes knowledge explicit and reflective, simplifies complexity and bridges space and time. It enables more efficient collaboration, increased profitability and better results. In addition, it creates a better team spirit even with distributed teams. An obvious benefit of e-collaboration for companies is the cost saving, which is achieved in particular by eliminating travel costs and optimizing communication and thus corporate processes. Furthermore, more knowledge can be made accessible to all participants through e-collaboration, which in turn leads to a more demanding exchange of information.

Possible dangers

When introducing e-collaboration, it should be noted that the positive effect usually only occurs with a delay. Various factors are responsible for this. For example, wikis and blogs first have to be used and filled over a longer period of time so that they offer real added value. Even chat software, which supposedly has a direct positive effect of the faster flow of communication, could initially hardly be used in companies or only for private conversations between employees.

If collaboration in the company is increasingly being replaced by e-collaboration, it must be noted that some aspects of communication will be eliminated. This can also mean a higher coordination effort or cause frustration in the long run, since the people involved do not actually meet. However, due to e-collaboration of the 2nd and 3rd generation, some communication aspects were added again, such as B. the personal exchange in chats or the social network.

See also


  1. B. Wirtz, P. Vogt: Online cooperation . Ed .: M. Bütgen, L. Fridjof. Wiesbaden 2003, e-collaboration in the B2B area: strategies, structures and success factors, p. 265–284 , here p. 273 .
  2. a b Martin Hornstein, Michael Pertek, Markus Koller, Andreas Fischler: E-Collaboration - creating added value through modern means of communication . December 3, 2008 ( ( page no longer available , search in web archives: namics.com ) [accessed March 13, 2012]).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.namics.com
  3. ^ A b Matthias Koller: E-Collaboration . August 15, 2007 ( ( page no longer available , search in web archives: slideshare.net ) [accessed on March 13, 2012]).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.slideshare.net
  4. ^ Daniel Stoller-Schai: E-Collaboration. The design of internet-based collaborative fields of action . University of St. Gallen, University of Economics, Law and Social Sciences (HSG), Kandergrund (Bern) 2003, p. 84 ( unisg.ch [PDF; accessed on March 13, 2012]).