Collaboration, in one form or another, has been a growing trend for the past decade. Thanks to the ever-increasing insidiousness of the internet and how vital it’s become to business, a wide range of collaboration tools are now available in the workplace.
This is a trend that continues to grow at an astonishing rate, especially since cloud computing and faster internet speeds have meant that we can collaborate in real time across the globe. According to a recent report by Forbes and Cisco, 93% of business leaders believe that "cloud-based collaboration stimulates innovation”.
"As more connections are established and nurtured, as greater understanding is achieved, better ideas germinate, with greater chances of reaching those in the best position to make things happen,” the report points out .
Beyond enterprise borders
More enterprises are now seeking to pursue a greater "intimate degree of collaboration”, with every department getting involved and companies looking to become more involved with working closely with outside parties. This includes suppliers and customers and means that using the cloud in such a way could prove to have a dramatic effect on business.
The flexibility of cloud collaboration tools allow the medium to really drive the collaboration revolution and this can only be beneficial when it comes to numerous aspects of business.
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This is partly due to the time-saving aspects that cloud collaboration offers, meaning that business results can now be accelerated without the need for travel. It also means that initiatives can be implemented much faster and this is confirmed by 64% of executives.
This ability that the cloud has to accelerate business results is one of the key drivers behind the technology and trend towards more integrated collaboration.
Key tools for cloud-based collaboration
Of course, this is far from the only benefit that collaboration offers, it’s well documented that the model also increases a company’s agility and employee productivity. Other key benefits listed in the report include:
Of course, these are just a few on a long list of benefits that executives told the report authors were a part of cloud collaboration.
Video collaboration in the cloud
Video is becoming increasingly important to business leaders, the report found, with 89% of them reporting that they make use of "voice augmented with streaming video delivered via cloud”. Whilst the advantages are considered to be many, communication is said to be vastly improved due to the ability to judge facial reactions and mannerisms.
It also means that viewers can readily see a product, or even troubleshoot a complex piece of machinery. 48% of the organisations asked said that they already make extensive use of tools to enable "live multimedia interaction”, rising to 90% among leaders.
Video collaboration tools mean that teams and outside partners are readily able to share content, such as slideshows and documents, whilst being able to see the other participants. This vastly improves the quality of business interactions and enables firms to review proceedings at a later date via a recording.
Cloud collaboration and IT
"We’re now getting into collaboration on shared services with other agencies like the National Health, the police and the welfare department,”said David Wilde , CIO of the UK’s Essex County Council, an extensive user of cloud collaboration.
"We’re sharing more information to improve services, cut fraud and reduce crime. And we also use document repositories where people can work together in a secure environment…”
It was also pointed out that "cloud collaboration is too important to leave to IT, but needs to be part of a broader business discussion”. In the survey, 75% of business leaders said that executives not involved in IT are becoming more embroiled in the selection, implementation and management of cloud-based collaboration tools.
This somewhat highlights the changing role of IT managers in the enterprise, something which means that they will have to "adapt or die”. However, by becoming more involved with collaborative practices in the enterprises, IT managers can ensure that they continue to have a place in the enterprise.
Whilst uncertainty surrounding issues such as security in the cloud may have held up deployment in many ways, this is something that is now disappearing to some extent and in order to ensure they continue to give value to businesses, IT managers must more fully immerse themselves in software and hardware tools designed for cloud collaboration.
This is especially true when it comes to video collaboration, as this particular trend appears to be gathering pace quickly in the modern workplace. Bearing this in mind, it’s likely that customer relationships can be improved too, thanks to better communication enabled by face-to-face video collaboration.
Perhaps the era of that faceless employee or business partner that you've been talking to for years but never seen really is coming to an end?