E-professional or "eprofessional" or even "eProfessional" is a term used in Europe to describe a professional whose work relies on concepts of telework or telecommuting: working at a distance using information and communication technologies, as well as online Collaboration (i.e. Virtual team, Mass collaboration, Massively distributed collaboration), online community of practice such as the Open source community, and Open innovation principles.
The concept of eprofessional, strongly related to the concept of ework, extends the traditional concept of professional in including any type of expert or knowledge worker intensively using ICT (Information and Communications Technology) environments and tools in their working practices. An eprofessional can be either an independent worker or an employed worker but he is at the same time a member of at least one community of practice which confers him the title of professional. Being an eProfessional is not a profession of its own, but it exists in combination with a business profession such as consultant, engineer, journalist, scientist etc. An eprofessional is not working in isolation but actively collaborating with other eprofessionals within virtual workspaces. Altogether a group of eprofessionals carries on his collaborative work through the use of Collaborative Working Environments (CWE).
eProfessionals and their working environments
Working practices are evolving from traditional proximity or geographical collocation paradigm to virtual collocation paradigm where experts (professionals) have to work together whatever is the geographical location of everyone involved. In this context, eprofessionals are using a Collaborative Working Environment providing the capabilities to share information and exchange views in order to reach a common understanding. Such a level of common understanding is enabling an effective and efficient collaboration among different expertises.
These technologies enable an eProfessional being part of groups and communities as well as knowledge networks, and being involved in distributed cooperation processes that have not been possible before.
- Is linked to a normal organisation by employment, but may also act in a self-employed way. The work is often performed at mobile workplace.
- Is involved in many different projects within groups, communities, projects, and with external partners in different organisations. Often these projects are constructed around highly complex and creative tasks that require a high coordination effort. The problems to be solved appear suddenly and require access to information/knowledge not known before. Thus, tasks and processes can not be anticipated or planned beforehand. They are of different length and complexity, involving different support tools.
- Requires the availability of the workplace in different situations, locations and places and the ad hoc availability of a cooperation environment.
- Requires support for the ad hoc identification of other eProfessionals based on similar interest and complementary knowledge. Tasks can be solved only gathering and relying on information from different sources (data and people)
- Requires the dynamic ad hoc creation of collaboration with different people and groups
eProfessionals are both a result of new flexible business models and also the necessary pre-requisite for their implementation. A collaboration environment that can adequately support the needs of an eProfessional must provide services on demand, based on the flexible work tasks of the user. Overall, the high level benefit of 'incubating' the ideal eProfessional environment will effectively foster a distributed intelligence model. Of course a challenge to reach this state would be to ensure a unilateral mindset and collaboration environment that allows one to focus on the initiative in general. All of this can be linked to concepts of Swarm Intelligence.
- J. Lipnack and J. Stamps, 1997, "Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time, and Organizations with Technology", Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-16553-0
- Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams,December 2006, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
- Kapor presentation, UC Berkeley, 2005-11-09.
- Prinz, W.; Loh, H.; Pallot, M.; Schaffers, H.; Skarmeta, A.; Decker, S. ECOSPACE: Towards an Integrated Collaboration Space for eProfessionals
- M.A. Martinez Carreras, A.F. Gomez Skarmeta,2006, Towards Interoperability in Collaborative Environments
- Hans Schaffers, Torsten Brodt, Marc Pallot, Wolfgang Prinz (editors), March 2006, The Future Workspace
- Collaboration@Work Experts Group, February 2006, New Collaborative Working Environments 2020
- Collaboration@Work Experts Group, May 2004, Towards a middleware for collaborative work environments