Increasingly, we employees are becoming knowledge workers. We are expected to use and evaluate data and information to perform our jobs faster and to make better decisions. Yet we – and the organisations we work for – are also victims of information overload. The toolsets we are given to work with don’t help. While enterprises don’t lack tools for communication, very often, the problem is fragmentation at the level of the individual desktop. No single application or platform encompasses all needs: search, knowledge management, workflow and collaboration. In addition, where collaboration tools do exist, they frequently stand alone or are proprietary tools.
Another issue is that much of the data we deal with during working hours is unstructured. Most of it remains locked up in word processing documents, emails, spreadsheets, images and video that cannot easily be located or used. Whether it involves locating a document or an excerpt, searching for information is often a deeply frustrating process.
Realising the extent of the problem, organisations are confronted with the big challenge of how to help us become more productive by offering frictionless access to the right information, in the right context and at the right time. The potential for ubiquitous real-time collaboration inside enterprises as well as with customers and partners, using voice, video calling, instant messaging and data, remains vast. Here are a few examples:
i) Global collaboration: collaboration platforms allow enterprises to bring together internal teams and to work together more effectively with their partners and customers, regardless of location constraints
ii) Bounded co-creation: companies can solve more challenges and do so rapidly, by integrating trusted partners, customers, collaborators, contractors and freelance workers into tightly-knit, ad hoc teams
iii) Workflow collaboration: giving employees the ability to discover internal experts and partners who can improve their performance by sharing knowledge on the go
iv) Sharing tacit strategic knowledge: by allowing access to recordings of past meetings and presentations, companies can make life easier for team-mates, new employees and newly promoted employees alike
v) Sharing tactical knowledge: for example, by popularising wikis containing employee-generated guidelines, workarounds, what-if scenarios, hints and tips
vi) Recognition: widely-used collaboration platforms can be used to recognise and thank colleagues and partners for their work
vii) Recruitment: social media is a great external recruitment tool. Social collaboration platforms inside the enterprise can help managers and HR executives to identify candidates for staff projects or promotion
viii) E-learning: in the academic world, universities are starting to capitalise on the potential of massively open online courses (MOOCs), to extend teaching activities far beyond campus-based lecture halls. Enterprises can do the same, developing their own collaborative learning courses, free from the constraints of time zone and location
All these elements together create my kind of communications nirvana. Unfortunately, while we do not have the tools to achieve all this today, it truly is within reach now. To find out how the dream will soon become reality, please download our latest whitepaper on the future of collaboration here: http://tatacommunications.com/blue-skies-future-collaboration.