The evolution of collaboration technology is a driving force behind today’s business functions. Document sharing, video conferencing, and WebEx meetings have all taken their place at the table of “must-haves” in a business’ IT infrastructure. As collaboration technology continues to march forward, how businesses and people employ workplace collaboration functionalities is going to need to change as well. This article will take a look at three workplace collaboration trends that have gained traction and why your business might want to consider implementing them as part of your workflow.
Three Big Workplace Collaboration Trends
- Unified Communications Evolves into an As-a-Service Offering
- Out With File Syncs, in With Content Collaboration Platforms
- Chatbots Bring Automation to Administration
1. Unified Communications Evolves into an As-a-Service Offering
A growing trend in the world of business collaboration has been the implementation of unified communications as a service (UCaaS). This trend comes as expectations explode around what collaboration tools should provide. Usage platform flexibility, reduced video pixelation, and clear audio are just a few examples of features provided by today’s UCaaS solutions.
The cloud-based aspect of UCaaS-oriented communication and collaboration tools provides organizations with more than just scalability and flexibility. Employee accessibility can vastly improve through the use of a smartphone suite of apps. Costs are manageable due to pricing models that ensure businesses are only paying for what they are using. This reduces the impact on IT staff as well, as app and device provisioning move from a business’ helpdesk to the UCaaS provider.
As UCaaS gains headway (it is estimated that at present only about 14 percent of businesses use UCaaS), it’s wise to stay ahead of the curve. An estimated 70 percent of companies are looking to move to cloud-based unified communications over the next year or so, presenting businesses with a small window to seize a technological advancement over their competitors by implementing within the next year.
While a UCaaS solution will bring with it scalability and a subscription-based payment model that serves to keep costs under control, keep in mind that getting the most out of UCaaS requires that specific technologies are available in your area of operation, most notably 5G service. Without this, the ability to use next-gen packet security and 4G video streaming will be unavailable to your business, making this an incomplete collaboration tool.
2. Out With File Syncs, in With Content Collaboration Platforms
The burgeoning business data field is growing at an immense rate. According to data provided by IBM, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being generated daily worldwide. Storing and analyzing this data is quickly becoming a challenge for businesses attempting to mine the information needed to grow their business and customer base. It’s necessary to find a system that can parse pertinent information from the chaff efficiently and with low overhead. Enterprise file syncs, long the backbone of such efforts, have become inadequate.
That makes it necessary to increase the performance of big data analytical tools. It’s now standard to build the needed datasets on a per-project or per-user basis, and these must be scalable and flexible to adapt to changing business and project requirements. As legacy tools drown under the sheer volumes of data that must be processed, content collaboration platforms (CCPs) like Google Drive and Dropbox step in to flex their data management muscles.
The key advantage of leveraging CCPs over legacy file sync and file-sharing products is the ability to provide all-in-one solutions that seamlessly present data points visually in an inviting, interactive, GUI-based model. This provides businesses with collaborative content management via the web or a mobile app, increasing productivity and accessibility. Users retain the ability to upload files by dragging and dropping them, while gaining commenting, tagging, and noting options for each file. This allows for live, interactive editing, complete with change tracking, across multiple platforms, and the app-based models are equipped with mobile notifications for ease of use and work cycle management.
The in-depth analytics that are tracked behind the scenes through these content collaboration platforms give project managers the ability to see content usage, user preferences while in the tool, patterns of work, and in some cases social interactions. This aids with improved data security, especially when combined with some other features offered by CCPs. Advanced password protections, such as two-factor authentication, and options for remote wipe and data encryption, have elevated CCPs into one of the leading workplace collaboration trends.
3. Chatbots Bring Automation to Administration
Gartner once predicted that we would end up speaking to AI-driven chatbots more than our significant others by 2020. Businesses have been relying on chatbots for cost-effective customer interactions for well over a decade, but have only recently started looking at chatbots as assets to improve internal communication.
Chatbots offer organizations “always-on” data searching and can utilize AI to “learn” how to better find information. One example of this is how Google manages its search engine results. Some CCPs have chatbots integrated within them as part of the solution, and these can be used to automate meeting invites, keep tasks on track, and even record meeting notes during a video call. In this way, chatbots can keep project teams working in sync with one another while eliminating much of the administrative overhead that can eat up workers’ time.
For all of their good, chatbots do come with valid security concerns. They rely on stored information that lets the AI analyze and learn predictive behavior patterns. If compromised, this information could lead to liability and intellectual property issues. Also, chatbots can be utilized for orchestrating phishing attacks against targeted individuals within an organization. This makes it crucial to educate users and strengthen data security before integrating chatbots into a business environment.
Aligning Workplace Collaboration Trends With Business Processes
Businesses thrive when employees are able to collaborate easily by utilizing the most applicable data points available. In today’s content-driven world, taking a technological step forward enhances your ability to interact with your customers while giving you deeper levels of data management on the backend. Your evolution into the world of workplace collaboration makes it easier and more efficient to match your business goals and processes to a data-obsessed consumer business model.