Team Collaboration 101
Your guide to Team Collaboration tools
By 2022, Gartner believes that 70% of teams will be relying on workstream collaboration technology to complete their daily work.
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the demand for team collaboration solutions growing at an exponential pace, as businesses discover that all-in-one hubs for teamwork are infinitely more efficient and effective than relying exclusively on email and phone calls.
With the right team collaboration tool, businesses can banish many of the time-consuming and overwhelming tasks that employees have to tackle each day. Instead, it’s possible to create an all-in-one environment where people can go to chat, share information, and even work together on projects in real-time.
Some studies even suggest that collaboration tools can improve business productivity by 30%!
So, what are team collaboration tools, and how do they work to transform your business?
What is Team Collaboration? How Does it Work
Team collaboration tools are any software-only or software-and-hardware service designed to improve and optimize teamwork. These solutions are quickly becoming the all-in-one environment for business operations, as they provide easy access to everything from screen sharing, to knowledgebase information and video conferencing.
A collaboration service gives business teams the option to interact with their colleagues, either one-on-one or in group channels. Often, these services also provide multiple forms of communication so that team members can host different kinds of conversation according to their needs.
For instance, if you just needed to check up on a project, you could start by messaging a team member over your collaboration tool’s IM service. If that conversation becomes complicated, you can upgrade to an audio conversation, start sharing your screen or even move to video.
Team collaboration tools might include:
- Video, audio, and web conferencing
- Hardware for collaboration (whiteboarding and cameras)
- Instant messaging and SMS services
- E-discovery, archiving and search
- Presence information and notifications
- Screen and file sharing
- Calendar integrations and scheduling tools
- Workforce management and optimization software
- Task management tools
Many team collaboration services are now integrating with the tools and services that businesses already use. For instance, you might have a collaboration hub that integrates with your existing business phone system, contact centre, or CRM (like Salesforce).
Team Collaboration 101: The Basics
Choosing the right team collaboration tools helps business leaders to ensure that staff members always have the technology they need to work more effectively together. In a world where remote work is becoming more popular, these services turn the workplace into a virtual environment where people can connect in any environment. It doesn’t matter which devices you’re using, or where you are. Anyone can use a collaboration tool.
According to some studies, 96% of executives believe that it’s lack of communication and collaboration tools that cause the majority of workplace failures.
With team collaboration tools you can:
- Improve productivity: Team collaboration tools make employees more efficient and productive in any environment. IDC notes that the cost of being unable to access the right technology and information at work equates to around $3,300 per employee. Collaboration tools keep all of your staff on the same page.
- Enhance experience: Collaboration solutions allow employees to remain productive wherever they are. This opens the door for more flexible working environments and engaged employees. What’s more, better communication on the back-end makes it easier for teams to work together to solve complex problems. This means that customer experience improves too.
- Better manage the workforce: Employees are up to 17% more satisfied in the workplace when they have access to collaboration tools. At the same time, your IT teams and supervisors can better track what’s happening in your environment. This makes managing the workforce much simpler for everyone.
Collaboration tools also improve company culture. The easier it is for your employees to interact with each other, the more natural bonds will form. This is even true in a remote workplace, where it can be more difficult to build employee connections.
Team Collaboration Trends
Just like other components of the UC landscape, collaboration tools are evolving to suit the changing needs of the marketplace. For instance, many collaboration services now offer free versions of their tools to help teams try the technology before they roll it out to a full team. This offers an easier point of entry for enterprises that aren’t sure how much people will use collaboration tools today.
What’s more, collaborative systems are becoming increasingly more flexible and extendable. Businesses want to ensure that their collaboration tech works well with their existing platforms. Because of this, even market leaders like Cisco and Microsoft have been forced to work more cohesively with each other. Some of the biggest trends in team collaboration include:
- Integration: Businesses want to be able to build their own technology stack using the services that matter most to their teams. Because of this, companies like Slack, Microsoft, Cisco, and many others are investing in more integrations with everything from email tools, to CRM technology. The more integrations grow, the easier it will be to create the single pane of glass environment that teams want.
- Artificial Intelligence: Like many other aspects of the communication landscape, collaboration is also seeing the rise of AI. Machine learning tools and bots can help to improve the collaboration experience by making it easier to find information instantly. They can also offer things like real-time translation and transcribing during video meetings.
- The rise of video: Video has long been a valuable part of the collaboration environment. However, lately, more companies are beginning to take a video-first approach to communications. This means that the video offerings provided with collaboration software needs to be more reliable, secure, and consistent.
- Open platforms: Many collaboration tool providers are beginning to provide access to APIs and SDKs that allow businesses to build their own experiences into the landscape. This means that you could potentially build your own collaborative experience from scratch if you have the right coding knowledge.
- New experiences: As the teamwork environment continues to change, collaboration vendors are increasingly offering advanced new services. In the years to come, we will continue to see the rise of bots and AI in the landscape. However, there could also be opportunities for more unique experiences, like cognitive collaboration (offered by Cisco), or AR and VR technology.
Team Collaboration Vendors
The market for team collaboration software is growing more every day. According to some reports, the marketplace can expect an average growth of 13% up to 2024.
The vendor that you choose to guide you into this new landscape will depend on what you want at the core of your collaborative environment. For instance, tools like Slack and RingCentral Glip are built around the idea of messaging at the heart of team communication. On the other hand, Zoom and Microsoft Teams has a greater focus on things like video and audio.
Here at UC Today, or list of Team Collaboration apps and vendors can provide an excellent insight into some of the top-performers in the industry. At the same time, if you want to learn more about some of the biggest players in the field, then you can always check things like the UC Awards ceremony that we host every year! Remember, when choosing a Team Collaboration vendor, ask yourself:
- Which path do you want to take? Do you want a vendor that can offer everything from business phone (VoIP) to video conferencing in the same place? Or do you want a more modular approach where you can build something using different platforms and vendors?
- How open is the platform? How much can you adapt your collaboration environment to suit your needs? Can you add and remove features according to your business requirements? Is it easy to onboard a new user? Does the technology integrate with your existing tools?
- Are you secure? Your collaboration provider should always put the security of your business first. Make sure that the vendor you work with has encryption methods and security tools in place.
Team Collaboration Events
Once you’ve checked out some of the top-performing vendors on the market, you might decide that the best way to choose a winner for your team is to see the companies in action. Visiting events like the Slack Frontiers or Google Next expo can give you an insight into what some of the biggest companies are doing to transform the collaboration environment.
Since we know that it’s often difficult for businesses and their teams to visit all of the events that they would like to cover in person, the team at UC Today is always on-hand to do the hard work for you. We visit the biggest events in the collaboration space to bring you all if the information you need about recent features, mergers, and acquisitions – as soon as the announcements are available.
We might not be able to do your networking for you, but we can help you to explore things like:
- How to prevent shadow IT: How do you make sure that your employees are comfortable using the approved collaboration tools in your business? If you can’t encourage adoption, then you may end up with employees using unapproved tech.
- Updating your collaboration stack: How do you implement some of the latest features that market leaders like Microsoft and Cisco have to offer? Do you need extra training and support, or can you add functionality at the touch of a button?
- Where to look for help: Who are the best partners and resellers available today if you need some guidance bringing your collaboration strategy to life? We can even cover some of the best innovators on the market offering new integrations.
Team Collaboration Reviews
Now that more companies are beginning to use team collaboration tools as the central hub for internal communication, it’s harder than ever to choose a provider. Almost every communication vendor on the market today is dipping its toes into the collaboration waters. What’s more, 7 out of 10 professionals claim that choosing collaboration tools is crucial to their business.
If you’re having a hard time making the right choice, check out our team collaboration reviews and keep the following factors in mind:
- Solve a specific problem: Don’t just look for the collaboration tool with the latest technology. Choose something that can solve a specific problem for your business. For instance, if you want to keep remote employees engaged with video, a platform that offers quick and easy video conferencing like Zoom may be a good choice.
- Find out what your employees like: Most employees are already using some kind of collaboration tool to connect with colleagues and other people outside of your team. Find out what kind of tools they’re most attracted to. If you have a team that uses Office 365 technology every day, for instance, Microsoft Teams is a clear choice.
- Look for integrations: As mentioned above, interoperability and compatibility will be crucial for your team. Make sure that the services you access can work seamlessly with the existing tools in your business. Finding a collaboration vendor that plays well with others is essential in the current landscape.
- Keep your security and privacy demands in mind: Most collaboration tools will give you some granular control over things like employee access and which tools different staff members can use. However, you’ll also need to look into other security measures too. For instance, where and how is video collaboration information stored?
- Think about the future: Don’t just consider the collaboration features that you need now. Ask yourself what’s going to be essential in the future too. For instance, do you need something that works well with AI and automatic translation so you can build a rapidly growing global team?
Team Collaboration Comparisons
With some of the top providers from the team collaboration space laid out in front of you, it will be much easier to begin narrowing down your choices. Here at UC Today, we regularly conduct head-to-head comparisons that allow you to see the kind of experience you’ll get with some of the leading tools in the landscape.
Check out our comparison articles for a better overview of how the leading providers perform when it comes to things like forward-thinking features, security, and even integrations.
Remember, your ideal collaboration tool will depend on what you want to achieve within your team. Are you looking for something that combines collaboration and communication, with access to things like business phone and contact centre technology? Do you need a collaboration tool that you can grow and add features to however you choose with an open API, or hundreds of integrations?
Whenever you’re choosing a new tool, make sure that you keep the needs of your users in mind. If you can’t deliver the collaborative experiences that your employees expect, then your adoption will suffer.
UC Today Team Collaboration Smart Guide
The demand for collaboration tools is growing stronger by the day – and it’s not going anywhere.
As businesses become more globally dispersed, and remote working increases, collaboration tools will act as the heart of any internal communication strategy. Around 75% of employees now rate teamwork and collaboration as crucial to their performance.
If you need to know more about the collaboration environment, check out our Team Collaboration Smart Guide. The guide will introduce you to the fundamentals of collaborative tools, how you can build a strategy for your enterprise, and even what the future of teamwork might look like.