Using Team Workspaces for Structured Workflows

In our Cisco versus Microsoft session at Enterprise Connect 2018 last month, Phil Edholm and I articulated three important conditions for when a team workspace solution becomes compelling. There must be:

  1. A defined topic
  2. A defined group
  3. Continuity over time between the group and the defined topic

Three elements required for a team workspace: a defined topic, a defined group, and continuity between them over time

We also showed which segments of an enterprise's workforce will benefit from team workspace software along with those that won't.

We concluded this portion of our Enterprise Connect session with what may have been one of the most understated, yet important conclusions to emerge from this session: Businesses could redesign workflows and processes using team workspace concepts as the fundamental building blocks. The significant implication is that team workspace concepts such as spaces, channels, shared files, application connectors, and collaboration become a platform from which an organization can build systems and solutions that support the organization's business processes.

MIT business professor Marshall Van Alstyne has stated, "Platform beats product every time." Is it possible to use team workspace concepts to create compelling platforms for driving specific business outcomes as opposed to just a convenient virtual team meeting place? Phil and I think this is not only possible, but it is inevitable!

Building a business process based on the concepts found in team workspace software, including common spaces, shared files, messaging, meetings, video, audio, and integration with third-party apps

Introducing Structured Workspaces

Workspace collaboration tools can be very helpful for groups and teams to organize content and foster collaboration around topics and projects. However, traditional team workspaces lack the focus on specific business outcomes that team leaders and managers require for assuring that teams are getting the work done.

A structured workspace is a place where a team or group can work with an end goal in mind. "Teams" in this context is a broad term that can range from a team of two to a team of hundreds or possibly thousands.

To solidify the structured workspace concept, consider a financial services organization that sells services. This process involves external participants -- prospects and clients -- as well as employees in one or more internal teams charged with marketing and outreach, sales and onboarding, informing, and upselling. A templated workspace can represent each of these areas. This type of business process has a flow that may include four distinct structured workspaces, as follows.

Public Prospect Workspace: In this workspace, the team provides the opportunity for prospects to view collateral such as documents, videos, and prospectuses, and to interact with the sales team. Interaction modes could be multimodal, including messaging, audio, video, and file sharing. Important to note is that this is a public workspace, meaning that anyone could see the materials. This workspace would function much like a public Web page; however, it is much easier to place and remove content as such a workspace doesn't require programming.

Private Prospect Workspace: As a prospect becomes more interested in the services, the financial services firm would create a private workspace containing additional documents and files specific to that individual prospect. The difference between this workspace and a webpage is that it is unique to the prospect, and the financial services team can introduce documents and other materials in a defined sequence.

For example, the prospect might first need to fill out forms to subscribe for services, and then electronically sign them. So, the financial services team would push an investor sign up form into the workspace. Next, the prospect would need to review and sign documents for transferring or rolling over funds, and the team would push those forms to the prospect. Using multichannel interactions, team members could guide the prospect through these documents in a specific sequence to achieve the desired outcome, which is that the prospect becomes a client with funds in an account managed by the financial services company.

Note that this is a templated workspace in that each interested prospect will be guided through a similar process, with similar documents, but the interactions may occur at different times and in a different order for each prospect. Also, the financial services firm could customize each of these workspaces with supporting materials and information that not every prospect asks for, needs, or wants to see. This workspace represents a place where a repeatable, collaborative business process can occur.

Continue to next page for more workspace descriptions and examples