By Rob Bellmar, Executive Vice President of Business Operations, West UC
It’s a fact: The workforce is more geographically dispersed and mobile than ever before. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report found 43 percent of employed Americans spend at least some time working remotely, a 4 percent increase from 2012.
As a result, the way we work is undergoing a fundamental shift. Customers no longer just need employees to communicate with their on-site co-workers. Instead, businesses need to bring remote employees and their outside partners, vendors and customers into the fold on a daily basis. Because of this, borderless collaboration – the ability to seamlessly collaborate with people both inside and outside of the organization – has become necessary for business operations.
Fortunately, an industry-wide focus by unified communications providers on enabling team collaboration and improving interoperability is creating a viable path to borderless collaboration in the workplace. Earlier this year, Microsoft Teams and Slack made it easier for users of their apps to collaborate with people outside of their organizations. Meanwhile, Cisco announced it’s moving Spark toward “universal federation,” which allows users from different companies to communicate on the platform without experiencing any loss of functionality.
Despite these exciting improvements, several hurdles are keeping customers from true borderless collaboration. Here are three of the biggest, and how you as a trusted adviser can work to overcome them.
Hurdle 1: Teams within the same organization use different platforms.
One of the biggest roadblocks to seamless collaboration is actually self-inflicted. Different departments within the same company often operate in vastly different ways — and the workplace collaboration apps they use are no exception. Some teams prefer Slack, while others are partial to Microsoft Teams, and still others prefer a mix of email, instant messaging and personal conference lines. This disjointed environment makes it difficult for people to work together when necessary, since one collaboration tool might not integrate with another.
To tackle this issue, work with the leadership team and department heads to determine how many different tools are currently in use and why each team prefers its own method. Specifically, which features of each tool do employees like and why? Then, work with leaders to select and implement a tool for the entire organization that satisfies these needs as much as possible. Yes, some people might lose their pet features. But the payoff from one solution used consistently across the entire organization is well worth finding some workarounds.
Hurdle 2: Cross-vendor integrations remain limited.
Oftentimes, the workplace collaboration solutions that your customer uses internally will differ from the one that its clients and suppliers use, making it more difficult to work together. Though cross-vendor integrations within workplace collaboration tools are improving, advances are still in their beginning stages. As a result, some workers end up having one tool they use with their colleagues and another they use with an outside partner, leaving them with more to …