Category : Microsoft SharePoint | Date : 6/27/2018 11:41:16 AM | ID : BLOG961839

Are You Ready For The Next Collaboration Wave?



Source : FORBES

In the past, video conference-based collaboration normally meant audio and video communication and possibly a bit of screen sharing. This technology is only present in a fraction of the meeting rooms in the world, but it's become more widespread over the past few years due to desktop clients and mobile devices. According to Research and Markets, less than 2% of huddle rooms in the world are video enabled. This means that very few companies are using video conference technology in their collaborative spaces, and some have not gotten to the level of even using video.

The largest business values of collaboration are the availability of resources and faster decision processes and not travel costs alone, as it used to be in the past. Still, the focus on unified collaboration is low when it comes to business line value, and as a result, it is often placed in a non-strategic role with IT.

The next wave of collaboration tools is very different and will create an even greater divide between the companies that understand this value and those that don’t. Communication is not enough for the advanced users anymore; the need for integrated business process value has surpassed the “old” values of communication alone.

Here are some examples of companies that are revolutionizing the way employees and businesses collaborate:

Cisco

Cisco Webex is a well-known product within the collaboration industry. Cisco recently decided to merge its Cisco Spark offering with the well-established Webex name. The new offering is quite different from the pure web conferencing offering in the past. The new platform is all about collaboration across systems and applications, not just people. High-quality video and screen sharing is still in the center of the Webex offering, but now you can add team chat, application integration, bots and much more to the service. Its main strengths are audio/video quality, security and simplified workflows, especially with external parties. (Full disclosure: Cisco and Microsoft are Kinly partners.)

Microsoft

Microsoft Teams is somewhat different from other offerings in the new generation of collaboration tools since it is deeply integrated into the existing Office 365 productivity suite. It is not a standalone product. In reality, it is a new and improved window into Microsoft SharePoint with new features added to it. That being said, this does not feel like MS SharePoint at all, but it begins to deliver on the promise of MS SharePoint and information sharing. You have team chat, application integration, bots, video and screen-sharing capabilities. Its strengths are content management and team planning, as it's able to utilize the Office 365 document workflow and applications.

Slack

Slack was actually the first major application in this space. It has gained popularity quickly since it is easy to get started, especially with the free versions, and offers a vast amount of application integrations and bots. It also comes with team chat, audio, video and screen-sharing capabilities. Flexibility, consumption model and ability to stand alone with all the third-party applications are major strengths from Slack.

There are numerous other offerings, including an open-source alternative called Riot, so this is the start of the new wave.

The major shift with the solutions mentioned above, and others like them, is that they are now taking a stab at integration with APIs to embed their respective collaboration suites directly into business process tools. Not only do they offer the usual audio/video and chat capabilities, but they also enable businesses to utilize the tools inside their own business applications for communication or visual data sharing. The applications also allow users to easily bring business data and decision processes into the collaboration tools themselves to streamline workflows.

The new platforms are utilizing cloud computing with public APIs to simplify application creation and empower users in an unprecedented way. Few people still understand the power of these new disruptive platforms and how much lower the threshold for utilizing this type of technology has become. The creation of these tools will enable more content-friendly solutions, as you don’t need to be an integration specialist to make simple yet valuable services. People with non-IT skills in other professions can now utilize this powerful technology to create more meaningful services. Specialists can focus on the core industry value rather than the technology. These new platforms are democratizing the software integration industry -- or disrupting it, depending on where you are coming from.

Companies that can afford to invest in the creation of new business processes with these new tools will be able to gain a great advantage over their competition. They will be able to share knowledge, be structured and reach decisions much faster than traditional companies. This is the main benefit of the next wave of collaboration platforms. Communication alone is simply not enough for companies that understand the power of collaboration.

What does this mean for you and your company? How can you get practical value creation from these platforms?

Using the new collaboration platforms, you can add website customer support, including voice and video escalation, with a simple service add-on. Social media monitoring is already built in, and you can get integration directly into your CRM system for tracking and customer management. The call control and media platform are also included. The new platforms have simply merged the previous custom, expensive and advanced tools needed for omnichannel communications and have integration possibilities with public APIs to cover your custom integration needs. The public APIs can talk to all the major workflow players such as Built.io, IFTTT or Zapier, to mention a few.

Clearly, the next generation of collaboration tools is no longer only about communication and basic exchange of knowledge, but rather a platform to connect various business processes together and integrate in an unprecedented manner. The pace that this will happen will most likely take many people by surprise as the platforms created by the large players are enabling everyone to create their own advanced services with minimal resources.

It’s about enabling the enablers!