By Chris Driggers
For many workers, digital collaboration has become a way of life. Enterprises typically manage these tools in their data center. But this on-premises approach involves the high overhead of upfront costs and ongoing management. It also fails to keep up with our new remote, mobile-enabled reality.
That’s why more organizations are looking to collaboration clouds. The potential advantages are twofold:
- Reduced cost, time, and effort for hardware, software, and infrastructure management
- Better collaboration experiences for employees and customers
But to succeed, you should understand how cloud-enabled collaboration can benefit your unique business environment. You also need the right strategy to achieve positive collaboration-cloud return on investment.
Cloud-Centered Teamwork Gets the Job Done
Collaboration tools first and foremost benefit employee teams. Human connection is a big part of daily work life. If employees are working remotely and don’t have a way of connecting personally, they aren’t as effective.
The easiest-to-consume cloud-based collaboration tool is videoconferencing. It gives workers face-to-face interactions with one another and with customers. That can be crucial to teamwork, problem-solving, and innovation. And it’s an imperative for salespeople interacting with clients. Talk to anyone in sales, and they’ll tell you that being able to interpret a prospect’s facial expressions and body language is huge.
Other collaborative-cloud solutions include productivity suites such as Microsoft 365® and Google G SuiteTM. These tools enable document sharing and collaborative content creation. And because they’re consumed in the cloud, they offer a consistent experience across devices and locations.
Collaboration clouds can also leverage emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI). Facial recognition, for example, can identify participants in a teleconference and display relevant information. Bots can take notes, identify action items, and make recommendations. Collaboration AI requires heavy compute power that would be cost-prohibitive for most companies to maintain on-prem. The cloud makes AI viable.
Collaboration clouds can benefit customers across industries. For example, consumers can interact with your contact center through voice, email, chat, bots, callback options, and self-service options. Those tools are enabled by the cloud, which also ties together the various applications agents use to provide customer service. The software recognizes the customer across channels, because it’s all integrated in the cloud.
All Together Now
The key is simplicity and ease of use. Cloud-enabled consistency across devices is less frustrating and more productive for employees. It also eases the burden of administration. You can do away with legacy connections like virtual desktops and VPN connections.
If you want to transition to collaboration clouds, begin with a thorough examination of existing software. If you’ve already invested heavily in on-prem tools, you don’t want to throw that investment away.
That could mean starting with a smaller cloud-based implementation that augments existing capabilities with cloud-only features. The focus in that case would be on close integration with your current functionality.
Next, create a road map to future cloud capabilities. Plan where you want to be in six, 12, and 18 months. Your goal should be to move progressively toward the cloud’s advantages. The good news is that collaboration providers recognize the trend toward the cloud, so they’ve enabled integrations that smooth the path.
Numerous large companies have announced that they’re planning on a permanent remote workforce. With a growing number of employees un-tethered from the office, collaboration clouds are here to stay.
Chris Driggers is Collaboration Practice director for Pivot. As the Practice Director, Chris aligns the Pivot Collaboration portfolio with industry leading partners in order to bring the best Collaboration solutions to our clients.
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