The Future of Collaboration – Trends, Technologies and Training
Many in the industry would say collaboration tools and the workplace are changing rapidly. We prefer the past tense. They have already changed irrevocably.
People want to work free from restrictions. They have their own workflows, communication preferences and favourite collaboration applications. Mobility has rebuilt our workspaces. Video has torn down borders. It’s an exciting time for businesses and employees.
The state of the market
Influenced by these changes, collaboration vendors are removing silos that locked businesses into technology ecosystems. Interoperability is now the name of the game. Any application or service wanting commercial success must be open by default.
Businesses are making their own adjustments. The term Digital Readiness is about preparing for emerging technologies that will improve efficiency using automation. Digitisation is transforming whole industries. Organisations need a strategy that ensures collaboration investments bring employees closer together to achieve these goals.
Part of becoming ‘digital ready’ is identifying trends that are bubbling under the surface of the industry and implementing them successfully before competitors do. Below are three of the most important trends facing businesses today.
Technologies transforming workplace collaboration
‘as-a-Service’ and cloud are now integral parts of any successful collaboration roadmap. The cloud has enabled organisations to adopt powerful collaboration tools that would have traditionally cost too much, been too complex to deploy and too difficult to scale across a global workforce.
The associated benefits are well documented. ‘as-a-Service’ eliminates the responsibility of hardware maintenance – a costly, time consuming part of IT. Instead, IT is free to focus on transforming the business with strategic projects. There’s greater financial flexibility due to OPEX billing models. New services can be evaluated with minimal risk.
One effect of this change is that network availability is now essential. Guaranteeing reliability across the network, including for those working remotely, is vital. The network needs to be fit for purpose to handle the dramatic increase in traffic.
Even with cloud service providers doing much of the heavy lifting, organisations still need to manage network quality of service (QoS) to ensure intensive applications such as video do not have a negative effect on other applications.
Furthermore, as the network grows, watertight network security should be implemented to ensure that every end-point is secure. A dispersed workforce increases the number of devices accessing the network and any of these devices could pose a risk if they are left unprotected.
This is true of collaboration and visual communications – any solution connected to the internet is a potential cyber-security target. A security breach is not worth the risk anymore, for any size business.
Securing the network may be one aspect of an organisation’s information security strategy but equally important is educating employees about potential risks and how to stay secure, especially when sharing sensitive information with colleagues through collaboration tools.
Getting the business ready for digitisation
There are endless new collaboration tools entering the market, all hoping to improve processes and efficiency. Collaboration solutions are only as good as their users’ knowledge.
There is no point investing in a technology that nobody understands how to use. Business benefits will only be realised if employees receive training in how to use tools and how applications benefit their work and the company as a whole. Businesses need to listen to their staff and invest in tools that help their teams to communicate better.
This might involve installing huddle spaces as a more informal setting for teams to discuss ideas and make video calls. It could mean investing in cloud collaboration solutions so that employees can more easily share information across the company.
Successful Digital Readiness requires clear communication between IT, the board and employees to understand what the business requires.
Equally, everyone adapts to new technology differently. Once an organisation has decided on the best fit for its workforce, it should check-in frequently to understand the successes and obstacles employees are facing with new applications.
Collaboration is always changing, as is the workforce, but a comprehensive strategy will ensure that any new technology can be implemented successfully.