Our blog

Don’t hang-up on the creative potential of collaboration


10 October 2016

Chris Wilson

Blogs by author: Chris Wilson, Head of Propositions, Local Government and Health, BT


Encouraging innovation in business has traditionally been held back by legacy technology but unified communications is changing all that.

Innovation comes from anywhere, well at least it should do. Look at any large modern business with global offices, thousands of employees and a constant demand for new products and services and you will generally witness an innovative and collaborative culture. But how do you do this? How do you empower staff to collaborate regardless of location, whether they are in different geographic locations or even in the same building? How do you maintain that start-up enthusiasm and inspire people to think differently?

Collaboration is a word that tends to get a lot of airtime when global business leaders share their thoughts on entrepreneurship and success. Quite right too but emulating their success may not be so easy. The trouble is that while many businesses talk a good game, the reality is that for collaboration to really work it needs investment in both time and technology. How many businesses are prepared to go the whole mile and meet the required level of investment?

Certainly they should. Collaboration is, and always will be, a powerful business practise. It’s about bringing people together, unleashing creativity by breaking down barriers both internally and externally. It features heavily in most business plans for boosting business ideas and creative processes, such as consultancy giant EY’s A Spiral Approach to Business model Innovation. The most innovative organisations, says EY, collaborate throughout the process to access diverse internal and external expertise.

It makes sense but what do businesses really think? Do business leaders and employees get it? According to a BT’s recent Digital Dislocation survey, 75 percent of global leaders want simpler ways to share information and 90 percent of employees believe desktop sharing would be useful. With 57 percent of organisations working in silos, the drivers are there for IT decision makers to pursue greater collaborative technologies across the business. With 31 percent of IT decision makers having a strategy for cloud-based collaboration, they are starting to put the building blocks in place.  There is an increased understanding of the value of voice, data and video in developing collaborative working, with 78 percent wanting collaborative tools to improve internal communication and 59 percent saying that voice and video working well together is essential for the business.

It’s clear businesses recognise the potential benefits but 60 percent of employees still complain about time wasted contacting colleagues. We’ve all been there – time delayed calls, broken video, dropped lines and interference. Due to this disconnect between the potential and the reality, businesses need to focus on the fundamentals to ensure quick and reliable communication is a standard for all employees regardless of device and location.

Unified communications provides the backbone and integrated tools that can help businesses meet the challenges of modern collaboration. Businesses need the fundamentals, an IP-based network that can enable reliable voice and data services, as well as video calling and collaborative working tools. It is this level of advanced, robust technology that can make a considerable difference to how employees work, collaborate and innovate.

By removing the barriers to remote communication, businesses can empower employees but accurate interpretation of colleagues is essential, whether that’s verbal clarity (especially when you have to contend with varying accents) or visual recognition of expressions and gestures. Anything less is left open to question and discouragement, undermining the whole reason to collaborate in the first place. Only dedicated collaboration technology and tools can really make the collaborative experience about people and not technology.

Find out more about BT’s Unified Communications solutions.