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18 Oct 2017

New tech pushes collaboration to greater heights

Lauren Timmer-Somer Head of Communication Technology Services and Head of Marketing and Brand Communications
Communication Services

Clunky Web meetings and jittery video conferencing are dinosaurs

Virtual collaboration has empowered businesspeople with the tools they need to make the most of a disrupted world.

The ones that are most effective are the ones that meet the needs of fundamental business requirements.

Cross Border Business
For example, businesses, or the business they conduct, more often crosses international borders these days. And that often means confronting language barriers. Most conference calls are done in English but that’s a problem for second or third language English speakers. Will they be properly understood? Will they be effectively excluded from the virtual meeting if they are one of many participants?

Video conferencing can help to draw them back in. Besides the fact that video conferencing doesn’t allow people to arbitrarily mute their microphones and check their e-mail, keeping half an ear whether or not they’re asked a question, it can communicate body language – that silent trove of meaning.

Proper virtual collaboration can draw second or third language English speakers back in even further. They can get interactive with real-time document and data sharing from source business documents. They can collaborate creating reports and presentations. They can actively change schematics. And, with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies being built into smart boards these days, they can speak their mother tongue and have it reliably translated on-the- fly.

Human Resources
The every-day activity of job interviews, new supplier interviews, potential new prospects, specially in regions where there may be geographical or other challenges prohibiting or inhibiting travel – anything from severe traffic congestion to political unrest or simply lengthy distances – make collaboration tools the go-to technology of advanced modern businesses.

Smart boards can help HR professionals – and their potential hires – sift through a huge number of opportunities quickly, efficiently, and with the least inconvenience and resource overhead. Applicants who won’t have their own smart boards simply use a laptop, desktop, tablet, or even their smartphone. Many candidates, such as Millennials, actually prefer this method. And business prospects can rapidly determine whether or not your business is the right partner for them. Suppliers too can quickly demonstrate their expertise or quality and how they meet your requirements.

Everyday
Technical personnel can communicate with important customers without flying halfway ‘round the world or just across the country at great expense. And they get to help more customers quicker. Business executives can also conduct many of their meetings using collaboration tools. Teams can collaborate for everyday administrative and executive functions such as building reports, creating presentations, sharing information, and running and managing projects. Doesn’t matter where they are.

Beware the Fakers
Not all collaboration tools are created equal, a fact that may not be immediately apparent to the uninitiated.

Some say that project management-based tools or document systems are collaboration tools. But they do asynchronous sharing. They let people text one another. They can share documents by attaching them. They can comment on data in cells. And they give people a place to interact but normally by document type. They don’t also offer the benefits of audio and video with the ability to tap into documents from business systems, pull in people outside the group, nor the ability to have multiple people simultaneously edit business documents.

They’re also computer mediated. That limits people to interacting via keyboards (text and data), they’re slower, and less effective even if they are useful tools in their own rights.

They lack the sophisticated integration across businesses devices, such as printers, scanners, copiers, and multifunction devices (which connect analogue, paper-based data to digital systems and vice versa) with the intelligent software that feeds workflows and processes that inform knowledge workers.

Those coupled to smarter ways of working that put more empowered people in the field, at the point of business impact, give businesses the edge over their rivals.

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