The term “policy” has a semi-technical meaning for systems administrators and cybersecurity analysts. Because this meaning is relatively standardized (e.g., “group policy” for Windows networks), the underlying orchestration of business rules is easily grasped. For other organizational — and political — processes, it is less obvious. For instance, violations of group policy can be automatically audited. In a more positive vein, other behaviors, such as frequency of use for information or apps, can be measured at the group level. Two groups, one used as a control group, can test initiatives (“interventions”), such as the introduction of a new technology (e.g., Facebook at work) or new policy (e.g., outsourcing of a process previously performed in-house).
Collaboration was a goal of networked systems going back decades. For people of a certain age, a memory will be triggered by the mention of Novell Groupware (“Groupwise”). Yet, decades after this promise, increased availability of internet access and mobile computing, collaboration remains very much a manual process for many. Attempts to automate collaboration face many hurdles. The question must be asked, then: Are the limitations to e-collaboration due to technological limitations, or to something more intrinsically sociological or psychological?