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Evolving Your Collaboration Strategy
More than a year and a half into the pandemic and the transition to predominantly remote work, most organizations have deployed video and team collaboration apps to enable virtual employees to collaborate. But now, the focus is shifting to addressing remaining gaps in collaborative strategies.
Here are five areas that should be on your planning list:
1. Virtual Whiteboards
Distributed employees, and often customers, can use virtual whiteboard apps (not to be confused with physical digital whiteboards) to collaborate and ideate on a shared canvas. Using templates and the ability to embed files, rich-media content, and information from other connected applications, virtual whiteboards allow teams to perform several activities, ranging from ideation and brainstorming to workflow and process management to conducting guided workshops. Apps are now widely available from vendors like Bluescape, Lucid Software, Miro, and Mural, either on a standalone basis or integrated with meeting and team collaboration apps. Whiteboard capabilities are also natively available from meeting vendors, including Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Zoom.
2. Social Software
Social apps like Jive and Yammer have been around for decades, but their adoption is getting a renewed look as companies seek to ensure that distributed and remote workers can create work bonds and easily share information. Metrigy’s Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22 research study released earlier this year found that 38.4% of the nearly 500 participating companies are currently using or are planning to adopt social apps. An additional 31.4% are currently evaluating such apps for future deployment. While Yammer continues to dominate the social app market, Workplace by Facebook has gained a footing, with a third of the surveyed enterprises using it as their primary platform.
3. Employee Experience Management
This new area is squarely focused on helping business leaders, including HR, identify employee engagement and happiness. Vendors like Blueboard, Kissflow, Lattice, Limeade, Microsoft (Viva), Qualtrics, and Workjam provide capabilities to distributed company information, measure employee attitudes and interaction, and formulate continuous feedback capabilities. Outside of network-related issues, remote employee management and engagement is the primary challenge in supporting a distributed workforce, as our research has continually shown.
4. Virtual/Augmented Reality
Another area that has been around a while, but with little enterprise traction, is the use of virtual and augmented reality for employee and customer engagement. Interest in this space goes back to the launch of Second Life in the early 2000s, and more recently, with the widespread availability of gaming-focused platforms from Oculus. Enterprise-focused products, including Google Glasses and Microsoft HoloLens, have also existed in the market for several years. More recently, Zoom announced a partnership to integrate virtual reality Horizon Workrooms into Zoom. Our research has found limited interest in AR and VR over the years, outside of specific use cases like telemedicine and training. However, the technology continues to improve, and younger workers are likely much more familiar and comfortable with the technology.
5. Workflow Management
This final area is about optimizing workstreams by enabling shared project and task management across teams or even entire organizations. Apps like Asana, Monday, Smartsheet, and Wrike replace complicated project management tools (and more often, spreadsheets) with collaborative platforms that either standalone or integrate with team apps, including Microsoft Teams and Slack. These apps allow employees to easily manage their workflows, collaborate around projects and tasks, and extend workspaces to partners and customers.
The reality, from a collaborative and employee engagement perspective, is that an effective collaboration strategy requires more than just calling, meetings, and messaging. Evaluate each of these five emerging areas as a means to improve culture and engagement, work management, and ideation and collaborative development.
To learn more about these technologies and their role in the enterprise collaboration landscape, attend my session "Evolution of Collaboration: Beyond Team Chat & Video" at Enterprise Connect on Tuesday, September 28 from 5:00-5:45 PM ET.