The likelihood is that you moved collaboration to the cloud as an emergency measure as Covid struck. It was a seat-of-your-pants operation without the usual project goals and training. Individuals were left to themselves to work out how to use the tools and make do as best they could.
Now vaccines are starting to get some control over Covid, you too have the opportunity to get some control over hybrid working and how people collaborate in the new normal. You have the opportunity to establish a flexible, future-proof unified comms strategy and ‘nudge’ people towards behaviour that makes the most of it.
In this article we will show you how to sell the benefits to your organisation for maximising collaboration in the cloud. We will also forewarn you of the objections and resistance you will experience, and give you some strategies to overcome these.
1. Harness hybrid and remote-first working
A win-win for both employers and employees. Organisations can save money on office space and reduce their carbon footprint. Environmentally progressive countries like Germany already plan to change the law to make employers justify why someone has to come into the office, rather than the employee having to justify working remotely.
When it comes to recruitment, employers can widen their talent pool with hybrid and remote-first working. If your people only have to come into the office two days a week they can commute a lot further. If they are completely remote the employer gets to choose from a worldwide talent pool.
These days to hire top talent it is a prerequisite to offer hybrid working. The lockdowns and the Great Resignation have made people a lot more conscious about their work-life balance and few are willing to go back to the five-day commute. They are also very concerned about their individual carbon footprint, not to mention the time and money they save working remotely.
It will take time for both employers and employees to work out the most productive hybrid models. But it is essential that your cloud collaboration hub can enable these models as they emerge.
Being able to communicate and collaborate with your customers, the way they want, saves time and dramatically increases client satisfaction.
An integrated cloud collaboration hub
When we talk about collaboration in the cloud in this article, we are referring to a collaboration hub that incorporates:
- Communication | contextual messaging, voice, video, conferencing and screen share
- Collaborative content and document creation and editing – real-time or over time
- Project management
A hub may come from one supplier such as Microsoft, which is often an attractive option for large businesses with existing investment. Or they can be built from a mindful blend of best in class solutions such as Zoom + Slack + Google Docs + Trello – all of which play very nicely together through sophisticated integrations. Ideally, the hub will also integrate with other core systems in the business such as:
Legal (Case management, document management)
Sales and CRM
2. Improved team collaboration
Our new disrupted landscape means companies need to innovate better and faster. New entrants and new business models are emerging in many industries, and new technologies are compressing time to market. Improving your ability to collaboratively generate and share ideas, co-create content and build more efficient workflows is right at the heart of innovation.
Online creation and editing of files (text, graphic, video, design, whatever ) ensure everyone is, quite literally, on the same page. Sharing all the project details and files with the entire team also improves engagement since everyone has an equal opportunity to input. Contextual messaging around those files keeps the conversation contained and relevant. No more spiralling email sharing. No more ‘Who’s got the latest and greatest?’
Your remote workers especially benefit from the move to collaboration in the cloud. It provides the same access, the same privileges and the same frames of reference to all team members. And it works brilliantly on mobile devices. This helps both to create and ‘groove’ more flexible working styles, which will meet the expectations of your millennials and generation Zs.
*Freeing an estimated 4hrs per person per week. Potentially £10m in added value over 3 years in a 5000 person company.
3. A better customer experience
There are also huge benefits from a communication environment that integrates easily with your client’s way of communicating. Being able to communicate and collaborate with them, the way they want saves time and dramatically increases client satisfaction.
Forrester calculates the time saved for both employees and clients can be as much as 30 minutes per day via a fully integrated communication hub
4. A windfall from efficient communications
More efficient collaboration requires fewer, and or shorter meetings. In addition, meetings conducted on a reliable video conferencing platform like Zoom or Teams reduce setup time and call quality issues. Being able to record these meetings and share via the same platform also saves time after the meetings.
Estimated saving £5m over 3 years for a 5000 person company.
Integrated and empowered people are happier people. Happier still if the flexibility extends not just to where they work, but how and when too.
5. Reduced IT costs and complexity
It is still pretty common for large organisations to be managing a blend of on-premise solutions, home-grown cloud solutions, as well as third-party cloud applications. This creates difficulties for IT in terms of integration, scale, and cost. It can also make it more complicated to properly secure your information and to ensure compliance with regulations like GDPR.
Great example – telephony services are often a forgotten pocket of infrastructure with an ageing PBX sweating in a basement somewhere. Like any on-premise hardware, it has a cost to maintain and adapts poorly (if at all ) to hybrid working. If the majority of your people are working remotely most of the time, it becomes more and more redundant. Streamlining these solutions into the cloud reduces your licence costs and the burden of legacy hardware.
Bear in mind too that if an enterprise communication tool doesn’t meet your people’s need for features, mobility, and convenience, they will use public third-party applications instead, which not only seeds confusion, but could pose a security risk.
Having an integrated cloud environment managed centrally reduces your support costs and user downtime. It also means that wherever the data is accessed, it is protected and controllable.
Reductions in IT costs and complexity can save a company of 5000 people over £4m in three years.
Low code authoring and citizen developers
|Some collaboration platforms, like Microsoft Teams, support and encourage ‘low code’ authoring of features and apps by non-expert developers. This is particularly useful for digitising internal workflows, creating timesaving automations, focused customer experiences, and 3rd party app integrations. It means your business users can take on application projects, significantly reducing development timelines, not to mention cost.|
6. Improved wellbeing
Integrated and empowered people are happier people. Happier still if the flexibility extends not just to where they work, but how and when too. A great benefit of cloud collaboration systems is that work can get done at the same time as your team members (synchronously) as well as at the time that best fits the individual (asynchronously). The collaboration system keeps track of the inputs, and managers focus just on the outcomes. Additionally, an integrated cloud environment reduces the time to train and onboard all new hires. A seamless easy-to-use platform also improves inclusivity for employees with physical or cognitive challenges.
The ‘available from anywhere, anytime’ access to information manifested in a collaboration hub could create £190,000 of additional value for hybrid organisations
Common objections to cloud collaboration
We’ll be writing in detail about this in a second, companion article. Here are some first insights from that:
O: We have dozens of cloud apps already, many introduced by lines of business during the pandemic. Introducing more will sow confusion. And it might create divisions between teams.
R: Transformation is led from the top, and built from the bottom. Now is the time to harness the user engagement that drove digital transformation through the pandemic. Encourage them to consult back with the business about what they learned, and what they’d do better next time around. Then make them a keystone component of that next iteration (for instance see ‘low code authoring and citizen developers’ above)
O: We need a period of stability. We need to let people get back to normal.’
R: Sensitivity is important here – but you need to move forward, not back. Your first moves will be cementing the best of the changes that have already been made. The next moves will be to encourage users not to fall back into old, less productive habits.
O: Habits are ingrained. Are you really telling people to stop sharing on email?’
R: Yes, and yes. You can’t force people to change behaviour, but you can inspire them to. Show them what ‘better’ looks and feels like. Find your natural champions and advocates, within the community, to assist.
O: We don’t have the training budget or the expertise?
R: Take another read of the savings and added value estimated above. The paybacks are tangible. The expertise is available in the market. The cost of doing nothing ought to be your greatest concern.
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