Enterprises have reached a tipping point in terms of team collaboration. They recognise its competitive value. They’re investing and doing it quickly. They’re moving forward and moving fast to deliver on what employees need and expect. In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I explored this evolution and the deep commitment companies must have to digitally reshape communications and collaboration to transform the employee experience.
Collaboration has quickly reached a level of sophistication that has extraordinary implications. The benefits are clear. The use cases have been outlined. All that’s left are the secret ingredients that make the magic happen. So, let’s look at the building blocks of a contextual, digital team collaboration environment.
The Critical Components
More than 70% of companies claim to have a defined collaboration strategy in place. This should include:
- Converged infrastructure: The best ideas should be shared as naturally as they are conceived. To affect real change—the kind that transforms profits and competitiveness—companies need to support every person within the organisation to work the best way they know how. This requires the seamless convergence of technologies like mobile, social, UC and IoT to better integrate communications and manage collaboration preferences.
- Drag-and-drop workflow capabilities: Not everyone uses the same communication tools, nor should they. Simple drag-and-drop functionality offers the easiest way to quickly build communication apps and workflows that suit exact user needs. Dramatically simple tools and APIs enable anyone—not just developers—to embed custom communications directly into mobile and cloud-based applications to drive contextual, natural collaboration.
- Customisable dashboard: Too many moments of brilliance are lost to interruptions in workflow. Easily-accessible communication and collaboration capabilities should be available from the same top-of-mind home screen that provides users with access to their calendars, meetings, messages and calls. This integration allows teams to better self-organise around topics, share information, and collaborate across locations—anytime on any device.
- IT standardisation: The ideal collaboration environment should lighten the load for IT professionals, enabling them to focus more on strategic business initiatives. This should include, for example, one single login for all team collaboration needs (audio conferencing, web collaboration, HD video) and one set of statistics and single provisioning. IT should be able to easily standardise the solutions within this environment and push them out to all teams, both in-house and remote.
- Persistence: A persistent solution—hosted in the cloud with anytime, anywhere access—is critical for ubiquitous, meaningful collaboration. A flexible, browser-based collaboration space is ideal for employees to access ongoing records of team communications, task progress, artefacts of meetings, key documents and more—anytime, anywhere, on any device. Of course, this environment should run on data centre services from highly reputable brands so that users never have to worry about security.
Three Signs You’re Doing Things Right
There are plenty of ways to measure the ROI of team collaboration, both informally and in hard-dollars (a U.K. study, for example, found that companies with a highly engaged workforce experienced a nearly 20% increase in operating income over a 12-month period). Here are three solid indicators of wise investment:
- Collaboration is simpler: It’s ironic to think that some collaboration tools actually create more Be wary of building an overly ambitious collaboration environment that overwhelms users. For example, you don’t want to introduce duplicate tools for the same tasks or inundate users with information from too many tools. By doing too much, you run the risk of users not being able to do enough.
- Employees can use any communication tool: It’s silly to think that everyone within an organisation should use the same communication tools (research shows 83% of companies actually use different tools depending on the department). Your collaboration environment should enable anyone (on-site employees, remote temps, overseas partners) to seamlessly communicate using their preferred solution.
- Employees feel empowered as true collaborators: Gauge employees’ level of confidence in their collaboration capabilities. For example, are they stressed by the challenge of integrating specific code to build custom apps? Are they taking months to familiarise themselves with the development environment of specific platforms? Or are they able to use their ingenuity to start immediately creating, innovating and improving customer and business outcomes?
Enterprises can’t innovate or improve if their employees are stuck in the mud. Organisations need to support truly seamless team collaboration with solutions that offer a pathway for employees to instantly and naturally communicate—however, whenever and wherever they prefer.
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Adapted from 'Where to invest to Enable Smart, Competitive Team Collaboration' by Karen Hardy on the official Avaya website