Conventional, round-the-table meetings are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Some time after we crossed into the 21st century, new practices began to set in. Meetings still play a natural role in business (though they have become a chore for many of the participants), but new virtualised services carried out over the internet and mobile networks have begun to provide a more automated approach to our communications requirements. Email was one of the first indicators of change, firmly setting up roots as one of the standard ways we communicate with each other.
But email has been praised and criticised in equal measure; it is celebrated as a fundamental communication tool and lamented as an inefficient technique that takes up time and space unnecessarily. The problem that surrounds email is that it has existed as an imperfect tool for a long time, with no better alternative coming into being. But that is all beginning to change, and the only way companies can experience maximum success with new collaboration technologies is to develop a strong collaboration software strategy.
The Slack generation
In recent years, we have seen the emergence of collaboration tools that are offering new channels of communication for workers in a digital workplace. Tools like Slack, Podio, Asana, Ryver, Flowdock, Trello, Flock and also communication software like GoToMeeting and WebEx, as well as built-in tools like Box or Google Docs are making it more important for companies to take a formal approach to their internal and external communications. The growing list of options is making it more important than ever to have a focused strategy that defines which tools will be used to get all the benefits of powerful, effective intranet software in an organisation (and this is where digital workplace integration plays a big part).
The digital workplace makes it easy to integrate with your collaboration apps
At a basic level, companies must now formulate a collaboration strategy that defines which collaboration software they will use. They also need to specify how it will be installed, what customisations will be made, how it will be enhanced and how it will be deployed across the company. It is expected that the collaboration software market will be among the most exciting areas of the IT sector through 2019. Predictions include new innovations around chatbots as more companies deploy them to automate workflows. Collaboration apps are likely to be increasingly favoured by employees over email, and hackers are likely to target collaboration tools more to access valuable data. As such, we are likely to see some major players begin to emerge in the collaboration software market.
Conversation with chatbots
One of the interesting predictions for 2019 is that some of our collaboration and work discussions will be with software chatbots rather than human colleagues. These chatbots will be powered by AI and programmed with information that will help us perform certain tasks by offering interactive help capabilities. With the right strategy, the possibilities are exciting.
But implementing all the new collaboration software tools that are emerging can be a challenge in itself. In their development of a collaboration software strategy, companies need to identify their state of readiness for the introduction of new collaboration software, and there needs to be a workplace culture in place that is a good fit for the new levels of interactive sharing of information. If, for example, companies have too many disconnected business units, it could be troublesome to abruptly plug them all into the conversation.
A culture that has long rewarded people for hoarding information and developing expertise without sharing is not ready for collaboration software. Collaboration within a company will not be improved through technology if it doesn’t already support the concept of teams from separate business units working in tandem on shared projects. Take an honest look at the culture of your company, and if there is work to be done on improving the collaborative culture, make a detailed strategy on how to make the necessary improvements and which tools will be best applied to facilitate your strategy.
The road ahead
There is likely to be a consolidation in collaboration through 2019. Slack is likely to remain popular in more creative industries, as well as start-up environments and among freelancers. Microsoft Teams is already seeing some traction in enterprises that are entrenched with Office. Lacking a collaboration strategy could damage a company’s ability to compete as team collaboration begins to take the place of email. Companies with team collaboration technology will benefit from new efficiency, and as workflows become more digitised some firms without team collaboration platforms will lose their place in the market.
Whichever software platform your company has opted for, you have probably had some experience of web-based video and/or text conversations by now. The new era of the meeting has arrived and work is now more digitally automated. There is great efficiency and productivity to be enjoyed with these new technologies, but the only way to make the most of them is to have a strong strategy in place. Without this, you could be one of the unfortunate firms to drop out of the market.