Remember when you had to pick up the phone and make a call in order to work on a project with others? Collaboration has come a long way since then. While employees still use phones, there are so many better ways to collaborate. Enterprise Social Media; document sharing/collaborative workspace; and web, video and audio conferencing all enhance the process of communication. In fact, only 6% of U.S. businesses have no plans to implement a form of collaboration, leaving a huge market for sales of collaboration tools and services. In a recent IDC survey, 79% of the 700 responding companies said that they currently use one or more internal social networking tools..
New business designs, conceived in part by globalization, are just one of several challenges to organizations, calling for a new approach to information sharing and collaboration. Employees are facing fragmentation of teams due to outsourcing, multiple locations, offshoring and telecommuting. Collaboration efforts are designed to save organizations time and money. However, if not implemented, and implemented incorrectly, the resulting lack of communication across business units can culminate in duplication of effort, the decreased ability to repurpose the company’s internal intellectual property and time loss in pinpointing the right experts and information. While it is doubtful most workers could do completely without talking to others on a business phone, many would prefer to use a more collaborative method, and for good reason:
Video conferencing can be used from desk-to-desk or among multiple conference rooms. This enhances any voice conversation with the ability to see other parties, gauge reactions and meet new people. Video conference calls can also be a requirement in some legal situations, like union hearings.
Web conferencing can be used to join a few to thousands of employees in viewing a common document like a PowerPoint presentation. This is a powerful enhancement to voice calls that increases accuracy and efficiency. Many applications allow for feedback from the audience, making it even more valuable.
Document sharing allows workers to keep track of modifications made to files, regardless of location, in a collaborative environment. Versions of the files can be tracked showing who modified them and when. When multiple copies of a document are floating around, loss of valuable data can occur. Document sharing services and platforms help prevent that loss.
VARs should talk with clients to determine how they collaborate today and how they want to collaborate in the future. It is highly unlikely that one type of technology or one tool will solve collaboration challenges. It is far more likely that all of the technology that supports collaboration will become more splintered and harder for companies to control. However, collaboration challenges can be fixed or abated through good practices and technology. There are so many ways to collaborate with advanced technology today – and most of them don’t even involve a phone.
Did we miss any other collaboration options? Please tell us in the comments below.