Jones, Michael and Burgess, Lois, 2010, Encouraging SME eCollaboration - the role of the champion facilitator, Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning & Learning Objects, 6, 137-151.
Technology has done many things for small businesses. In one sense small business has been harmed through the advance of technology, which, from a competitive perspective, has made the world a much smaller place. To balance this, technology now provides the means for small businesses to collaborate and build complementary skills to provide a better competitive standing in the world market. Electronically enhanced collaboration, or eCollaboration, allows firms to transcend the boundaries of space and time, permitting asynchronous communication and other Information Communication Technology (ICT) enablers. eCollaboration provides participants clear market advantages, not least among these is profit. Gains can also be realized in areas like knowledge management, increased customer service, optimized supply chains, and better inventory control. Participants from 70 Small businesses in Southern Sydney were interviewed, observed, and participated in focus groups. Data were collected and analyzed using NVivo and Grounded Theory; from this data an integrated model is developed which provides guidelines for optimum facilitation and management of eCollaboration. Two critical needs were developed – these were hard and soft needs; two value-add needs were found – these are marketing and feedback. By satisfying these needs eCollaboration Champions – people or institutions who can facilitate, support, and guide collaborative relationships – can better ensure eCollaboration success.