Business Collaboration: Any Time, Place or Device—Even Yours
Like me, my 5-year-old daughter, Grace, is an iPhone and iPad owner.
When touring her new school’s computer lab, Grace asked the principal, “if this is the computer lab, where’s the iPad lab?” She continued, “I’m used to touch—that’s how I use technology. Where’s the iPad lab?”
Grace’s questions are already a reality for today’s IT managers. Multigenerational and global workforces demand seamless collaboration technology—apps and services that connect employees, clients and others together no matter their device preference or physical presence.
Intuitive collaboration merges video, voice, presence, instant messaging and email so employees can access information at any time, from any location, and from any application or device. A virtual connection between you and the people you work with lets you collaborate on the projects that drive business growth, often faster and with more agility than competitors.
In our most recent Modern Technology Lesson roundtable discussion, Northeast Ohio business technology leaders agreed on the value intuitive collaboration can have in the workplace, and also agreed on its main challenges: buy-in, finding the right technology and adoption. Let’s walk through these challenges, and how to overcome them.
Secure company-wide support.
How do you gain buy-in for the big-picture impacts intuitive collaboration can have within your organization?
One of the more common challenges felt by our crowd was knowing who to talk to about actually bringing intuitive collaboration technology to their organizations. Todd Freefield of Cisco told the crowd that for the first time, CEOs are coming in to his office along with IT managers to discuss collaboration. CEOs see the value in understanding how collaboration technology directly enables businesses to be more productive, efficient and successful.
The best way to gain buy-in: have your C-suite actually experience the possibilities of collaboration technology. Hold a videoconference among geographically dispersed offices, video-chat with research and development, instant-message with staff, or see if his or her VP of sales is in a meeting but available to communicate via text message if needed, or sample something that would be uniquely valuable to your organization.
Employees are likely already using collaboration—think Skype, Facebook chat and other accessible solutions—so providing an approved platform to merge and manage collaboration is where you can make a strong business impact.
“If you don’t already have a collaboration strategy, you need one. Otherwise, your people will go rogue and create their own.”
– Todd Freefield, Cisco
Choose the right collaboration technology.
Another common question throughout roundtable discussions: How will I know which technology should we use?
There’s no one right or wrong answer to this question. It’s a crowded marketplace, full of products from Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Apple, Oracle, Adobe and more. The first step in finding the right solution for your organization is to do a network assessment.
What are your organization’s edge devices, bandwidths, refresh timelines, etc.? Take a hard look at your network to make sure that you can support the technologies you want to implement, and maintain—or even improve—quality of service (QoS).
Terry Stein of Microsoft joined our discussion via videoconference, showcasing collaboration technology in action. He noted that it’s not always about which technology you choose, but the fact that the chosen technology is interoperable with the existing technology at your organization.
“It’s not about the technology, it’s about driving business outcomes and making people more productive from any location and device.”
— Terry Stein, Microsoft
Promote company-wide adoption.
Multigenerational workforces mean a diverse range of technology adoption. While providing the best and newest tools can retain the best and brightest talent, it may also stand as a learning curve for more seasoned professionals.
Gain buy-in and test the waters within your organization with focus groups. A few organizations at the event noted that test groups with a range of employees provide a good gauge on adoption rate, user challenges and IT management warning signs. It’s also a good method to build ambassadorship and adoption of new technology and processes.
From here, open and continual training sessions will give staff opportunities to ask questions, resolve individual issues, and continue best practices in using intuitive collaboration technology to improve workflow, company culture and business performance.
How have you seen intuitive collaboration technology drive business growth, and what were your challenges along the road to adoption? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you’re interested in experiencing collaboration technologies for yourself, please feel free to reach out to your MCPc account representative, or myself, to set up a time to come to our office, experience the technology, and plot out a roadmap for your organization.
Darin Haines is Group President of MCPc's Advanced Technology Group, focusing on solution delivery, and has over 16 years of experience in leading the technology function in mid-sized and enterprise-level organizations. Connect with Darin on LinkedIn.
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