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Woe to Physical Workspaces That Don't Allow for Virtual Team Reality

One of the things I like about the unified communications and collaboration market is that it's constantly evolving, which means I always have something new to cover. Currently what's new is the rise of team collaboration tools, or what me and fellow No Jitter blogger, Dave Michels, like to call workstream communications and collaboration (WCC). Unfortunately, as we watch the evolution of virtual team collaboration enabled via WCC, we haven't seen companies keep pace on the physical team meeting space.

As discussed in previous No Jitter coverage, WCC tool vendors include Acano, Biba, Cisco (with Spark), Redbooth, Interactive Intelligence, and Unify (with Circuit). To give you an idea of how hot this market is, Dave and I have already compiled a list of 14 companies as part of a joint report on the WCC market we're working on -- and we know that list isn't exhaustive.

In this digital business era, companies that can make the best decision with the right people in as short a time as possible are gaining competitive advantage. Additionally, the new generation of workers is very collaborative, and these users seek new ways of working in physical team environments. Unified communications tools are individual-centric; while they allow for team members to interact individually, they don't do well at supporting simultaneous collaboration among team members at large. WCC tools, on the other hand, are team-centric, designed expressly for that.

Last month, after reading the SMART Technologies-sponsored No Jitter post, "From Communications to Collaboration in the Conference Room, I got to thinking how very little has been done to align the physical team meeting space with the virtual team collaboration enabled by WCC. You may consider the topic of the physical room to be somewhat old school, but the fact remains that you can find tens of millions of meeting spaces, ranging from huddle rooms to large open areas, in enterprise organizations today. Despite all the benefits that virtual collaboration brings, teams still want to meet physically when possible to achieve the highest levels of productivity.

In practicality, in-building workspaces have challenges when connecting physical teams with their virtual counterparts. To help understand the problem, picture the last time you met with a team in a physical space while trying to engage a virtual audience. You likely encountered these challenges, even though you may not thought of them as issues.

All of these points can be summarized with the thesis that the technology largely deployed in today's meeting spaces forces team members to adjust the way they work. Instead of being able to work naturally, people have to find where the camera is, focus on a specific bit of content, or only be able to contribute partially. Instead, agile teams need tools in workspaces that enable users to move around and collaborate naturally. Only then can we unlock the true potential of teams.

As part of my ongoing research and coverage of this space, I'd love to hear what team-friendly tools you're looking at or using. Please add your feedback in the comments section below!

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@zkerravala
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