Gone are the days of business teams working in the same office, the same building, or indeed the same country.
We live and work in the globalised era. The internet-powered communication age.
Technology has profoundly changed the way we do business. Communication has never been easier, and departments and teams are no longer restrained to one office.
But this communication revolution has created challenges.
The main problem is how do we get a team to work together productively whilst divided by location, geographical borders and time-zones.
Fortunately, there is a solution.
It involves harnessing technology to increase collaborative working.
The Power of Collaboration
Before examining how technology can help, let’s take a brief look at what collaboration means in the modern workplace and why it’s so important.
Our globalised society offers plenty of opportunity. But there is a price for that opportunity – increased competition. No longer are large companies competing within their locality or nation.
They are competing worldwide.
One way to stay competitive and successful in the modern world is to encourage creativity, innovation and increased productivity. None of these things happen in isolation. They all rely on teamwork and collaboration between different people and teams within a company.
A Stanford University study demonstrated that participants encouraged to work collaboratively on a task stuck with it for 64% longer than those who worked alone. They also reported increased stamina, focus and achieved a higher success rate.
Collaboration has the power to transform business and boost success.
A Harvard study of collaboration strategies in 55 large companies, revealed that successful teams demonstrate similar qualities:
- Collaborative management – Successful teams are led by managers that believe in a collaborative approach and can be both task and relationship-focussed at different times.
- Clearly defined goals - Individual goals that combine to strive for an overall result or purpose.
- Clearly defined roles – There is little ambiguity as to who is responsible for what.
- Community – Strong communication and respect between all members of the team.
So, what are the benefits of this kind of collaborative approach?
- Performance boost – Companies with a collaborative approach are significantly more likely to be high performing in terms of profit and growth.
- Increased productivity – Teams that work together pull in the same direction and achieve results faster.
- Skills development – Collaboration helps team members to develop skills by sharing their talents with each other. Other skills are developed simply through the act of working collaboratively, e.g. communication, problem solving, interpersonal skills, etc.
- Increased staff retention – Collaborative working has been shown to boost job satisfaction and happiness, which means a lower turnover of staff and increased employee loyalty.
It’s plain to see that collaborative working is hugely beneficial to businesses of all shapes and sizes. The next question is how to achieve effective collaboration in an increasingly geographically separated workplace.
Unified Communications (UC)
Greater levels of collaboration can be achieved by bringing together all communication channels and getting them to integrate seamlessly, also known as unified communications.
The digital transformation of business has led to a plethora of productivity platforms, workflow management software and data analytics tools. These have transformed operations for most modern businesses, making tasks faster and easier to complete.
Due to all this increased productivity and data production, the need to communicate has never been higher. That’s why there are so many communication channels available to companies these days.
But it’s not enough to have open communication channels alone. In order to enhance collaboration within teams, a unified and centralised approach is needed to ensure consistency across locations.
There are also some serious business cost savings to be made by implementing unified communications.
Reducing Business Costs with UC
Unifying communications can lead to a sizeable reduction in spending for some companies. For instance, if a project needs people with various specialist skills from different parts of the world the typical approach is to fly one or more people to a single location. A good UC setup allows them to work together remotely and be just as productive as if they were in the same room.
In fact, UC accelerates project completion in most cases, as there is no downtime for travelling. There are also the obvious environmental benefits to be considered by removing the need to travel.
An Overview of UC Systems – Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams
The big players in UC are Microsoft and Cisco, and they’re betting the house on teams functionality. Both combine UC, conferencing capability, and team functionality.
The following section will give you a brief rundown on the main features and benefits of each UC system, so you can get a feel for what each can bring to your business.
- Wide range of communication tools – online meetings, group chat, web conferencing, one-to-one voice or video calls.
- File collaboration – work together on files in Office 365, such as Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations, etc.
- Customisation – Microsoft and third-party apps and services can be added to your workspace to increase productivity.
- Security – Microsoft Teams has a complete end-to-end security system, with built-in administrative control. Compliance tools are included.
- Support – direct guidance from Microsoft specialists or the Teams community. There is also a developer platform to help with integration.
Cisco Webex Teams
- Powerful collaboration tools – chat, online meetings, whiteboard, schedule functionality and file sharing.
- Integration – integrate with popular apps such as Google Drive, Box, Twitter, Trello, Zendesk and Google Calendar.
- Secure group messaging – send important information via direct and team messages, where they can be read and responded to right away—or flagged for follow up later.
- Share files – quick, simple and organised alongside your other communication so it’s easy to find.
- Fully secure – end-to-end encryption for messages, files and whiteboard drawings. Administrators can manage corporate and personal devices including PIN lock and wiping data should it become lost.
Unified communications is becoming essential for modern businesses, especially those that have team members spread out across different locations. Having a strong UC toolset in your business underpins your ability to successfully transform in the digital age.
From our experience, the best UC tools available now come from Microsoft and Cisco.
Connect Managed Services
At Connect, we will identify opportunities to streamline your processes and build in technology that will allow you to fully transform your business — making it run more smoothly, at a quicker pace, and at a reduced cost.
We believe once deployed, your business’ UC technology should be well designed, highly available, well looked after, and fully integrated.
Connect will help you to integrate UC capabilities into your existing systems, because we understand that UC is a journey and not a ‘rip and replace’ approach. We can also help with your user adoption strategy.
Whatever your digital transformation goals are, Connect will make you become more nimble and competitive in the digital age.
If you need to improve your communication systems to be more unified and integrated, download our guide 'The Benefits of Having Unified Communications in Your Business (And How to Get There)'.