4 Ways Cloud Communications Is Changing Collaboration at Work
In the not-so-distant past, workplace collaboration meant sending hard copies of documents around the office and discussing the status of a project around a conference table.
Then, a couple of decades ago, innovations such as word processing, spreadsheet software and the Internet introduced us to digital collaboration. However, these tools didn’t replace traditional methods of collaboration. Instead, they changed some of the nuts and bolts involved. Today, we have an imperfect blend of both paper-based and digital approaches, mostly because the tools we use haven’t been seamlessly integrated.
But that’s changing. As more companies go through digital transformations, they’re finding compelling reasons to invest in unified communications (UC) and collaboration technologies. In fact, Nemertes Research found that businesses which have successfully ushered in digital initiatives are 72% more likely to invest in UC and collaboration.
“By consolidating numerous enterprise apps, collaboration apps, electronic forms and functions into a single, personalized dashboard, accessed by any device anywhere, people can work more efficiently,” writes Nemertes President Robin Gareiss in No Jitter.
So, what’s next for cloud communications and collaboration? Here are four ways you can expect the former to transform the latter.
Workspaces Allow Teams to Collaborate More Efficiently
Virtual workspaces bring teams together easily and conveniently to streamline collaboration. Within team workspaces, employees can send messages and share content, as well as create and assign tasks to teammates. These virtual rooms keep projects organized by tracking all related conversations and files.
With all conversations, documents and status reports permanently available from the workspace, everyone remains on the same page, even if they’ve been away sick or on vacation. Plus, onboarding is a snap: New employees or project team members can come up to speed quickly simply by reviewing previous activities and files.
“In three years’ time, for some companies, team workspaces may very well have come to replace ‘traditional’ UC interfaces as the go-to client, essentially becoming the new platform on which all communications - both internal and external - are based,” writes Beth Schultz, editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect.
Cloud Apps Streamline Employee Interactions
Few businesses operate from a single location any longer, and few employees find themselves sitting in the same office as many of their project teammates. As teams become increasingly dispersed, the cloud breaks down the barriers of time and distance.
When all employees share the same cloud communications technology, they can converse with ease. Integrated messaging apps enable employees to get fast answers from internal experts without having to pick up the phone, while social tagging such as @ mentions can alert employees to urgent questions. Within team workspaces, managers can assign tasks to team members with due dates, while the entire team gets a holistic view of the to-do list to determine workload and appropriate timelines.
Additionally, cloud communications tools such as video and audio conferencing accelerate decision-making by making it easy to start talking anytime, with a single click.
Collaboration on Any Device, Anywhere
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the new workforce is its mobility. According to research by Strategy Analytics, 42.5% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2022, up from 38.8% in 2016.
But this won’t be a problem for companies that centralize communications in the cloud. For example, mobile apps make collaboration tools accessible from each employee’s mobile device. Thus, no matter whether they’re traveling or work remotely, they can read and react to critical documents, join video conference calls with a single tap and message colleagues securely from their mobile phones and tablets.
A One-Stop Dashboard Improves Customer Experiences
Businesses also need to make it as simple for their employees to collaborate with customers as they do with their colleagues. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, the ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience is imperative. Thus, the interaction between internal and external communication must be seamless.
A personalized dashboard makes it possible for employees to transition smoothly between a conversation with a client and one with a colleague. Perhaps the most vivid example is in the contact center, where agents can view customer information on the same screen with internal messaging apps, web chat and call data. When a customer needs help, an agent can locate an internal subject matter expert easily and resolve the issue quickly – without leaving their communications dashboard.
For most businesses, the main purpose of digital transformation is to realize greater organizational efficiency. Since cloud communications eliminates many of the roadblocks to more effective collaboration, it should come as no surprise that the companies most successful at digital transformation are also embracing UC and collaboration tools.
Learn more about ShoreTel’s collaboration solutions.