22C for Collaboration. Yes, it’s that ubiquitous buzzword that has been in vogue for the better part of the last decade, driving business organizations around the world to transform themselves into digital workplaces. What used to be the preserve of HR practitioners and project managers in the past, the C word today is a challenge that’s confronting the C-suite executives in general and CIOs and CTOs in particular.
The reason? Quite evidently, it can be attributed to the profusion of workplace technologies that engender greater productivity, organizational scalability, efficiency in generating customer delight and higher engagement with a millennial heavy workforce.
A problem of having plenty to choose from is a good problem to have, as compared to not knowing how best to harness the power of collaborative technology to meet your business goals. While reams of newsprint and bytes of digital real estate have been devoted to cover this all-pervading trend of marrying teamwork with technology, this article is an attempt to help you decode all the requisites to make your workspace competitive, creative and engaging by going digital.
For the uninitiated, you can broadly see existing collaborative technology tools subsumed under the following categories:
· Communication: Technology-enabled human interaction between employees through video and teleconferencing, messenger services, besides good old email.
· File Sharing: Virtual cloud-based technologies that facilitate immersive real-time collaboration amongst team members.
· Knowledge Management: A one-stop content repository for everything ranging from employee induction, reference sources, workflow processes, case studies to research findings that would help reduce the time and work cost.
· Process Automation: Intelligent business applications that enable a team to automate quotidian tasks so that they can focus their time and faculties on work that has higher impact potential.
· Social: A corporatized version of any of your favorite social networking sites with the underlying objectives of your team members getting to know you better and vice versa, besides enabling the crowdsourcing of inputs from employees across business divisions and goes for projects being worked on.
Let’s get down to the explaining the problem of plenty that was referred to above. First off, for each of the aforementioned collabtech requirements, there are an array of services or solution providers. You wish to get on a video call? Think Skype or Google Hangouts. Tele-conferencing? There’s Webex or Mindbridge. Your organization may have its own enterprise instant messenger services like Spark or Jabber, but as they say – ‘Old habits die hard’. Old timers would still prefer to use a Yahoo or MSN messenger or Gchat while millennials are increasingly showing their proclivity to circumvent even emails to communicate via WhatsApp or Viber.
From both a file-sharing and knowledge management perspective, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive and Dropbox have seen great traction across organizations. Yammer – the Facebook of the corporate world is increasingly used for knowledge sharing, sourcing, and collaboration. While the goal of the collaboration is met, the lack of centralization in using third party tools outside a centralized private network does raise concerns about wrong access and the threat to data security. It is perhaps for this very reason that many organizations, at-least until the recent past, were circumspect of going social with their internal communications.
Coming to process automation, for every business department based on functionality – be it Marketing & Sales, Finance or Human Resources, disparate ERP solutions exist which tend to work more as siloed islands, lacking integration and the ability to give the management a bird’s eye view or a macro picture of where the organization stands as on date.
A Case for the Intranet of Things
Much like the adage “All roads lead to Rome”, all these tools are designed to achieve the goal of collaboration, both in their individual capacities as well as the sum of all parts, thereby resulting in greater workforce efficiency. On an average, employees in an organization tend to use more than 5 enterprise applications to perform their daily work with each of them requiring unique log-in credentials.
We at Hubfly believe in the power of the intranet for business enterprises to leverage in order to achieve collaborative excellence. Hubfly provides one of the most integrated, business-centric and customizable intranet software that combines the collaborative power of Microsoft SharePoint and Office with the transactional efficiency.
While there have been articles that are more in the line of obituaries to the intranet as being integral to a digital workplace, here are some compelling reasons why we at Hubfly consider it to be otherwise:
· Digital equivalent of a physical workplace: The intranet’s centralized from a collaborative standpoint akin to giving an employee all the requisite tools needed to execute his/ her tasks at the workplace rather than having to go to multiple locations. The capability to integrate third party ERP solutions and other collaborative tools into it enables organizations to remain agile and react to the vagaries of the business environment as a collective unit.
· The Incubator of Ideas: Again, owing to its centralized nature, the intranet is the most potent medium for internal communications. Though the intranet of the past facilitated communications ‘Top-Down’, its evolution into a social platform has resulted in the trend of many learning organizations across the world facilitating ‘Bottom-Up’ communications amongst its employees. By doing so, the cross pollination of ideas from employees across different departments, functions and geographies has resulted in organizations solving business challenges and tapping market opportunities more cohesively.
· The benefits of Security and Engagement: The risk of sensitive confidential information being accessed by unauthorized personnel is mitigated when collaboration takes place via the confines of the intranet and in line with SharePoint’s data security protocol. With Hubfly’s customizable features, the engagement quotient remains high as an employee can customize the intranet to his/ her unique preferences.
So if you are looking to make your business evolve by going digital, ensure that a robust intranet is part of your plan.