Collaboration is the art of working on a task with others and achieving a common goal. Collaboration tools include everything from social networks, document, data/content and desktop sharing, instant messaging or chat, presence information, audio, video and web conferencing including interactive whiteboards, right down to voice calls, mobile phone applications and unified messaging. Many analyst firms emphasize the significant growth of this market segment over the next several years, in fact over $22M worth of opportunity. Business collaboration issues should be identified in a business before solutions are deployed.
Collaboration initiatives provide companies the benefit of improved communication between employees, departments and companies. Collaboration tools are not necessarily one product, but often a set of solutions that provide a homogeneous user-interface and experience over multiple device types and media. These tools and services offer businesses huge opportunities to increase productivity with improved business processes, faster execution and powerful teamwork.
Improved Business Processes – As businesses become more global and mobile, business processes are changing to allow incorporation of collaboration in the enterprise. Collaboration solutions can significantly enhance business processes by improving communication between departments like manufacturing, sales, marketing, purchasing and technical support in a people-centric manner. Document sharing can be used to share and comment on changes to policy, programs, promotions, scheduling, budgets, and much more.
Conferencing allows employees to discuss business issues in real time, expediting decisions and eliminating misunderstandings. Knowledge workers can gain real-time access to information whenever and wherever it is located with data sharing with content management solutions. Mobile workers can access collaboration tools that look and work the same as their desktop applications, making them easier to use. As business processes evolve, collaboration tools enrich business value and competitive positioning.
Faster Execution – Because employees can communicate more effectively, they can execute faster. Prior to conferencing, several calls had to be made to discuss a project. With conferencing, document sharing and enterprise social media platforms, information can be shared much more quickly and concisely. Examples of improvements to execution time include:
- Improved time to marke
- tIncreased speed of upgrades and software fixes
- Momentum in addressing competitive challenges
- Agility in answering questions
- Optimal utilization of distributed resources to improve productivity and profits
Team Problem Solving – Problem solving among team members can be problematic when employees are not all in the same location. Cultural, language and time zone barriers can also contribute to this issue. In the past, if a team was working on a document together, each member would have to add their part then email the document to the next team member. With collaboration tools like enterprise social media, conferencing, content management and document sharing, teams can meet, discuss, and make decisions with agility and accuracy in a secure environment. Examples include:
- Teams can be seamlessly connected via virtual and physical silos, align goals and contribute their collective knowledge.
- Innovation is improved through the sharing of new ideas among teams, vital to the growth and competitive advantage of any business.
- Collaboration tools can provide real-time organizational recognition of opportunities for innovation; reduce the cycle time for idea conception and design; and tap participation to drive expansion of ideas.
- Collaboration improves teamwork between internal and external customers including suppliers, customers and business partners who can then effectively connect with relevant subject matter experts, improving relationships.
When speaking with enterprise managers, find out how employees are collaborating today and what could improve effectiveness. Discuss productivity issues, business pains and determine the costs associated with these problems to show return on investment. Stress productivity improved through collaborative, people-centric business processes, speedier execution and innovative teamwork and you will find a valuable customer for collaboration solutions today and future solutions for tomorrow.