10 October 2016
Blogs by author: Alan Lang, Head of Unified Communications Marketing, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, BT.
“Can you hear me? Yes? No? Hi. Yes it’s me. Alright? No the other John. The line is not great. Sorry. What accent is that?” Poor technology has a habit of discouraging collaboration – yes collaboration, the great inventor of ideas and mistress of productivity. So why do businesses put up with poor quality? In a perfect world with fast connections, high audio quality and video capability, collaborative working can flourish. It has huge merits to any business that wants to develop company-wide projects across different offices, buildings, cities and even countries.
It’s what Brian Solis, principal analyst with the Altimeter Group says is changing the way we work. “Collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect our people and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device,” he says.
All great stuff but what’s the point? There has to be an end goal here surely and can it be measured?
The Aberdeen Group thinks it can and recently released a study that found that over the course of a year, organisations with a collaboration policy saw a 96 percent improvement in the time it takes to respond to customers.
Most businesses understand that putting people together can usually result in increased creativity and clear project goals. Increasingly disparate workforces means collaboration needs to be treated as its own business function. It needs to be thought through to make it worthwhile, otherwise you will get to a point at which businesses lose control of technologies leading to security and usability issues.
Think of the benefits. From a sales point of view the technology can enable productive meetings with customers while also improving the customer experience, regardless of location. But only if you get the technology right.
It’s perhaps no surprise that much of today’s low level collaboration is conducted over well-known consumer apps, which are free to use to a point. Great for a one-on-one perhaps or even for a small group chat but if you have ever tried to conduct a serious collaborative business meeting over these apps you will understand that it doesn’t always go to plan. The experience often leaves staff frustrated and can even lead to people dismissing the idea of collaborative working altogether.
So what’s the point? If businesses are serious about collaborative working surely they need to invest in the technology and tools that can make the experience reliable and engaging? That doesn’t mean building a dedicated room with a big screen and hoping people will use it. It’s about enabling staff across a network, ensuring all staff have access to the same tools, regardless of location.
It’s a point Evan Rosen, author of The Culture of Collaboration and executive director of The Culture of Collaboration Institute makes. He suggests managers can only manage and measure collaboration if all staff have access to the same tools.
“Some companies reinforce command-and-control culture by creating a hierarchy of tools,” he says. “If your company invests in only a few such systems, it’s more effective to reserve them for particular functions rather than for particular people. The most collaborative organizations give everybody access to the same tools regardless of level, role, or region. This eliminates unnecessary hierarchy, reinforces collaborative culture, and creates greater value.”
A dedicated technology backbone that unifies communications, such as BT’s One solutions promises clear, fast video and audio, as well as collaborative tools for everyone. It will not only help staff to collaborate efficiently and regularly it will inspire them too. The ability to hear nuances in people’s voices, recognise accents or see expressions reacting to comments in real time as if they are in the room; these are the fundamentals of human communication that can be achieved through state-of-the-art unified communications. Everything else is lost in translation.