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Facilitating Creative Communication Between RI Businesses

Monday, February 24, 2014


This week, GoLocalProv investigates the third of five major themes from Economic Intersections of Rhode Island, a private-sector generated report that outlines collaborative solutions to jumpstart the Rhode Island economy. The report examines the most creative, bold and exciting new industries that will help to get the Ocean State back on its feet.

“Facilitating Intersections and Creativity”

Economic Intersections focuses throughout on how to help businesses and other organizations in Rhode Island to work collaboratively and creatively. The entire process of creating the report was an experiment in this kind of creative collaboration, with 200 participants from different sectors all across Rhode Island divided into teams to brainstorm solutions that could benefit all of their industries. “Facilitating Intersections” mentions that this process has already brought about new and productive partnerships.

When they communicate effectively, Rhode Island businesses can better lobby for funds, share results and ideas, and publicize the plethora of reasons to work, live and visit within the state. In this section, the report provides suggestions for making that kind of communication and interconnectivity across the state as simple and widespread as possible by putting into place key structural resources that businesses can rely on moving forward.

Develop Online Communications Infrastructure

In order to see what other Rhode Island businesses are doing in real time, partners from across the state must combine forces to invest in a single database to keep track of innovators across the state. Work is already underway on a proposal, named Tango RI, to create a centralized system that would fit the bill. Tango seeks to create a unified hub for all kinds of information relevant to Rhode Island businesses

Though Tango is still in development, it hope to end what Economic Intersections dubs “data fatigue,” the effect of the proliferation of numerous databases containing diffuse or disorganized information. According to Economic Intersections, Tango RI has already garnered attention from the World Economic Forum as one of the first comprehensive databases of its kind. “Via a single login,” reads the Tango RI website, “users can join participating organizations and access their shared suit of common services, including searchable, sortable member directories, even calendars, news, promotions, and directory maps.”

Enable Cross-Sector Collaboration

Rhode Island businesses need to collaborate across industries to discuss trends, setbacks and emerging opportunities. While companies involved in marketing, communications, warehousing and shipping may all share clients, those companies as it stands now have no avenue to address common issues or business prospects. Economic Intersections puts forward several ideas for how to create or improve spaces—both virtual and physical—where idea-sharing can take place.

In addition to the type of online information-sharing that can be accomplished by creating a database like the proposed Tango RI, there are additional steps that can be taken to lay the groundwork for further collaboration. The report urges businesses to look at the work being done at “hackathons,” events where different sectors convene for marathon problem-solving and brainstorming sessions to attack a shared challenge. Economic Intersections advocates holding “hackathons” or similarly-structured symposiums on a regular basis, teaming the best and brightest of different sectors to work to solve shared issues.

The report also calls for those organizations that already deal with businesses from a wide variety of sectors within the Rhode Island economy, such as the Rhode Island Foundation or Commerce RI, to attempt to forge across-the-table collaboration. Economic Intersections also suggests these groups to follow up on projects spawned by partnerships that originate within their organizations.

While Economic Intersections recognizes the key importance of disseminating information through centralized resources or statewide organizations, the report also encourages businesses to support the development of “collision spaces.” These are localized, liminal spaces where businesses can share ideas and information personally and regularly on their own initiative. Whether meeting in new, neutral spaces, underutilized pop-up space or even existing public space (such as libraries), the RI Foundation and Commerce RI reports recognizes that even in the age of almost unbelievable virtual information-sharing capability, “creating a physical infrastructure for collaboration is a key component” of an economic turnaround in Rhode Island.


This column is part of an ongoing sponsored content series with BankRI.


Related Slideshow: New England Job Growth Rankings

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Growth Rate: 1.02

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