When we talk about those components that enhance workplace collaboration, it’s important to discuss them on two levels. First there are those that provide the physical interface and collaborative function (the components that end users touch and use for interaction), and then there are those that drive the technology and processes beneath the hood of the enterprise IT infrastructure. For this discussion, let’s look at three component types that provide the physical interface to enhance workplace collaboration.
#1: Tablets and Communication-Enabled Business Processes
As an important subset of UC, communication-enabled business process (CEBP) is a methodology for collaboration that is driven by real technology and software components. It’s all about the intersection of software, automation, and human interaction. Everything from VoIP and advanced instant messaging (IM) to tablets and especially smartphones can be part of the CEBP collaborative experience.
In short, CEBP involves the use of application programmable interfaces and software development kits that contain archives of predeveloped code that enable applications to provide advanced UC services like presence, IM, e-mail, and social networking. It is being effectively used in industries like healthcare, where it is cutting the very collaborative discharge process time by 75 percent. This process requires so many different people to sign off on a discharge for a patient that it can take hours.
#2: Multi-Touch Collaboration Devices
While tablets are certainly used as collaboration devices, their size can limit the amount of direct collaboration. Collaboration via today’s whiteboards and interactive whiteboard software are clearly meant to provide a more viewable collaborative experience by groups in real time, but can be more centered on a single person facilitating group collaboration.
Today, it seems that these devices have converged in multi-touch devices that are like interactive whiteboards on steroids, with built-in computer, sensors, mics, cameras, and more. These and other features enable talking (videoconferencing), drawing, and sharing content with multiple simultaneous uses among a collaborative team in one space while working with remote teams. The latest devices have tons of apps for collaboration from BI to app development and beyond, making them highly collaborative tools for a wide variety of industries and verticals.
#3: Social Collaboration Tools/Community-Based Intranet and Collaboration Platforms
Intranet and collaboration platforms are far from new with longtime players that have created rich and capable platforms that can be used with a full range of audiences and that support stakeholders of every variety, from employee-only or customer-only to everyone. These best-in-class smart devices support individual native mobile apps optimized for intranets, real-time messaging, and employee directories. In addition to a multitude of other functions, many of these component platforms can be integrated with other legacy collaboration platforms to enable social and workplace collaboration features across conversations, content, documents, and files.
These and other pro AV trends that began to fully emerge over the last two years are all about integration and collaboration with communications infrastructure that foster workplace collaboration. Still, they must function effectively and be easy to use by everyone from Millennials to Baby Boomers in the work environment in order to foster adoption.
Beneath the surface of these tactile interface components, corporate networks need to be equipped to handle simultaneous voice, video, and data communication, both inside and outside the company network. Next time, we’ll look at these and other physical interface and collaborative function components from the standpoint of the IT infrastructure components that drive them.