How The New Wave of Collaboration Tools Can Make Your Team More Productive

Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Business Management [ 0 Comments ]

new wave of collaboration tools to make your team more productiveSince the early 90s there have been several waves of collaboration, allowing companies to share information with the right people, keep it away from the wrong people, and drive the workflow to get the job done.  Still today, the vast majority of knowledge workers remain underserved, files remain buried in confusing email exchanges, and the promise of better productivity remains elusive.  According to a report referenced in Inc. magazine, workers in small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) spend half their time on email, and about a third of that is wasted on duplicating information (Tweet this Stat!)

Three Waves of Collaboration

The first wave of collaboration focused on files.  Bob would produce a marketing plan in Microsoft Word, or a sales forecast in Excel and attach it to an email addressed to Mary. Mary would make changes, and send it back to Bob, with cc to Tom and George, because they needed to know. George made changes without first checking with Bob and pretty soon, there were two versions of the plan embedded in the email thread.  After a few iterations and questions later, they had to join a conference call to sort it out.

Can you identify with this scenario?  You are not alone.  The majority of knowledge workers still collaborate this way.  Email is still the primary means of communication at work.

Related: 4 Business Intelligence Trends for Your Small Business

The second wave of collaboration came in 2 flavors: Cloud-based file storage and Enterprise Social Networking. Google moved the files to the cloud and introduced collaborative editing with Google Docs.  Now Bob could be sure that changes to files would be in sync. The opportunity existed for organizations to move their files to the cloud and share.  Microsoft joined the cloud with Office 365.

As a result of the success of Facebook, social networking entered the enterprise.  Products like Yammer and Chatter were adopted and deployed, and since everyone knew Facebook, collaboration had been solved. Or so we thought.  At first, adoption was explosive, and then it started to slow.  Knowledge workers realized that “Facebook for the Enterprise” did not help them get their work done because it was not integrated with the productivity tools they needed to actually get things done.  And it did not reduce email load. Bob now had more to do, and less time to do it.

The Three Key Ingredients

 For effective collaboration, teams need three key ingredients:

  1. Easy Communication – all members must be able communicate with each other, individually and in groups,
  2. Content Sharing – a way to share files, reference materials and the work product , and
  3. Easy Access – all content, must be easily located by those who need it in real time.  The right mix of these ingredients is what differentiates adequate products from great ones.

A new wave of collaboration tools is focusing on bringing it all together addressing how teams communicate, replacing email with a real-time text and video chat. This approach puts conversation at the center, instead of files, tasks or projects.

Related: 7 Ways Technology Affects Business Productivity

When conversation is at the center of collaboration, you are more engaged, your team operates at a higher energy level, email fades away, and you get back the 50% of your day and use it to get the important things done.

Author Bio: Claudio Pinkus is the Chief Operating Officer of Glip, a startup leading the new wave in collaboration tools centered on conversation to drive greater businesses productivity.

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