If a technology executive has to hear "do more with less" one more time, we may have a mass revolt on our hands. Businesses today face a host of conflicting pressures. Declining revenues are forcing organisations to contain expenses, yet demands from customers, employees, and regulators continue to escalate.

The notion of "do more with less" has been tried and, while it has achieved some results, businesses have reached a point where they now need to do some things differently. One solution that seems to be the elusive holy grail of IT management is to create a better connected global business. Ideally, this is done by sharing existing processes and technologies, making it possible to respond to growing cost pressures and customer demands. Why are businesses slow to adopt a collaborative working environment that can unleash the power of the information within an organisation?

A recent Forrester report claims that 49 per cent of IT chiefs indicate that implementing a collaboration strategy is a priority or critical priority. But what are the other 51 per cent planning to do? Are they really happy to be left behind?

Your employees will have a cornucopia of productivity tools at their disposal. Taking a cue from micro-blogs, many are using email less and less to exchange documents and ideas, but instead using it for short and snappy one-liners and as a means to receive updates from the various collaborative systems that connect them to their co-workers and customers.

Collaboration tools are vital to an organisation's success. We can no longer rely on the old ways of doing things - and by old I mean email. Web browser-based environments where teams and customers can exchange documents, ideas and criticisms are already here and are just going to become more proliferated. Some of the most creative and successful work is done by teams that can share information across organisations and break out of their regional or structural silo.

I recently read about how FedEx's IT group banded together with the firm's customer service organisation to put the first package tracker on FedEx.com. They took this monumental first step towards online customer service by ignoring the old way of working and choosing instead to collaborate across platforms with existing technology and resources.

A roadblock that IT executives will run up against is helping employees manage the other systems that play a key role in keeping the cogs of the business machine going. A project team, for example, can get distracted when they are made to flick between systems, signing in with a plethora of usernames and passwords.

Another issue is that a project might take place over such a short period of time that the powers that be could think that there is no need to invest resources into bringing all your systems together into one central collaborative environment. They couldn't be more wrong.

A collaborative work environment needs to be a top priority. If you did cost-benefit analysis on centralising all your systems you would see the clear benefits. By realigning your IT infrastructure to a collaborative workspace, companies typically see an increase in user efficiency - because they are wasting less time on accessing multiple systems - and a decrease in duplication of efforts through centralised assets. Most importantly, bottom-line benefits can be made because a typical working day is spent working without the hassle and time-wasting of juggling multiple systems.

For the naysayers out there, you already know this is no small feat. But the realists will believe in the potential and think it is possible if a long-term and detailed roadmap is created to get you and your employees there.

The central collaborative environment is only the first step. The next is to look at the possibility of decoupling each system from your enterprise. Take your CRM system, for example, and imagine putting it in a new home that runs on a platform with a usage-based pricing model that reflects how much you use it. Forget about the hardware, software and running costs that impact you right now.

If companies invest in the collaborative environment that acts as a mediator between users and all systems, IT departments can start to move them about without impacting the end user.

A sobering point is to consider how many more upgrades, replacements and maintenance windows you may want as your company grows or shrinks. Shrinking is a particularly hard-hitting reality right now. A number of large organisations have shrunk considerably, but they're still footing the bill for their original, large infrastructure. So why not develop a more flexible, collaborative IT infrastructure that helps you relieve today's pressure and respond to customer demands.