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Solving the Collaboration Conundrum

The use of collaboration tools continues to grow as companies using this technology report higher productivity levels. Data from Babson College researchers shows that employees spend 85% of their time collaborating with multiple teams of coworkers via meetings, email, conference calls, and instant messaging -- often across several time zones. The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees has risen 50% in the past decade alone.
Online meetings can often be cumbersome for many organizations, especially when so many people are increasingly working from remote locations. Many solutions on the market require multiple downloads and complicated software to manage. With so many options available -- from Web conferencing to webinars, webcasts, and unified communications -- how do you select which is best for your requirements?
Management consultant Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” as people who are responsible for gathering information, disseminating it to relevant stakeholders, and managing the inflow and outflow of knowledge in the workplace. However, over the past few years, the term “digital worker” has emerged. Digital workers are hyper-connected (regardless of their location), focused on collaborative decision-making, and enjoy flexible working environments. It’s the emergence of this type of worker that is accelerating the evolution of collaboration technologies.
A key driver of the digital worker’s success is mobility, as they execute most tasks from their mobile devices. This includes making calls, attending conference calls, managing appointments, editing documents, and sending emails and messages. Almost anything you can do on a desktop can be done on mobile device, and digital workers are taking advantage of this access to drive their businesses forward.
Enabling Remote Workers
With more and more employees expecting to be able to work remotely in today’s digital age, what should companies do now to enable collaboration and increase productivity? First, companies need to embrace this evolution and prepare now for the digital workforce of the future -- a working environment that will require more flexibility and adaptability to ensure collaboration and productivity remain top priorities.
Mobile needs to form the backbone of any modern collaboration strategy; and empowering teams with the best applications to use on mobile devices is critical. These applications need to be enterprise grade and have a strong user experience. If apps on mobile devices do not work well, they will not be used. Furthermore, our research reveals that mobile access to virtual meetings is increasing year-over-year, and we estimate that by 2020, 66% of PGi’s own voice traffic will be generated by users accessing meetings from mobile devices.
Therefore, enabling collaboration across mobile devices is critical. Technologies must enable digital workers to join conference calls easily and securely, and ensure calls and messaging take place just as easily and smoothly. People want one-click access to meetings; they want to be able to share screens and send messages while in meetings. These features are integral to enabling communication and a collaborative environment for the digital workforce of the future. Mobility is now a standard professional tool that enables better productivity and more flexibility, and empowers global, digital workers to get more done from anywhere and at any time.
It’s impractical for regional and global teams to all gather at one venue in order for a meeting to take place. It’s a costly, ineffective, and unproductive use of people’s time. Collaboration technologies resolve this, bringing digital workers together to collaborate and communicate so that they can deliver business results.
Examining the Benefits
A key part of these technologies today is that they have the capabilities to function on mobile devices and the user experience is seamless. For example, we will see artificial intelligence used to help with scheduling meetings and connecting people to meetings without their input or manual intervention. Technology will record meetings, capture minutes, and circulate all action items discussed automatically to key parties.
These conferencing-based technologies will also integrate other messaging-based platforms such as Slack, HipChat, and Microsoft Teams. And in the future, we’ll also see the rise of holographic meetings as Internet connectivity speeds up. While the myriad collaboration options seem to create a conundrum, it’s an exciting time for companies to enable their employees with the tools that they can access anytime, anywhere, and from any device, with an unprecedented quality of experience.
To empower modern digital workers, enterprises must consider how their technology works within the context of their digital workers’ behaviors. Companies must also have an open mind to using advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will change the way employees collaborate by automating basic tasks such as being punctual for meetings.
Ultimately, businesses need a flexible approach that supports a multitude of unique communication needs to maximize their IT investment, while concurrently motivating employees and driving business results.