By Deirdre Mahon, Zinc
The collaboration and communication tech markets are inextricably linked—at least in terms of how business users expect them to operate. It’s the vendors that tend to be miles apart, which can cause pain for users. I covered the distinction between communication and collaboration in a previous blog with this key takeaway; you can collaborate all day long but unless you communicate in real-time, productivity takes a hit and things can very quickly start to break down. That’s why it’s so important for these two functions to be connected through technologies like integrated communication apps.
It’s actually pretty amazing how challenging it is to keep everyone in the organization “on the same page”. Even in small companies, this is difficult. Over my career, I’ve had the luxury of spending time at very small companies—think startups of 20 people—but also at huge public entities with 90,000+ employees.
The only thing a bigger organization has going for it is the pace it moves. If a big org moved as fast as a startup, it would be even more complicated. At the heart of the issue is that employees use different apps to communicate. A recent Zogby survey from Oct 2017 revealed that most orgs don’t have standards or protocols around how employees should communicate.
Erica Keswin, author and workplace strategist covers this on a podcast and she knows a thing or two about organizational behavior and its impact on the health of a business. I recently heard a story about a company who had gone public and two months later ~60% of employees didn’t even know this milestone had occurred. Wow.
Another story shared was about a huge corporation who moved everyone to a new video calling and messaging solution which proved inferior to the previous, causing major disruption driving siloed teams to ‘roll on their own’.
I don’t have to convince you that decision can lead to numerous bad outcomes—the most obvious of which is the wasted time and financial investments. In order to get everyone communicating and stay aligned and on the same page, you should not deploy different communication technology solutions. It’s confusing for the employee who will either turn off or start using their own, likely insecure and not private.
Sumair Dutta, Analyst with The Service Council recently shared what field service employees really dislike in their day-to-day jobs and it was an eye-opener. Corporate decision-makers need to pay attention and drill in to understand why productivity levels hover at 71% when the goal is 80%. That may not sound like a big delta but a few % points in an organization with 4,000 employees can be millions to the bottom line in just one financial cycle.
According to Dutta, the #1 thing employees dislike is doing administrative tasks (39% of respondents) and #2 is taking time to find the information needed to do the job (26%). Pinpointing the exact content asset is the goal and if the information is not updated or in a place that can be easily accessed, it causes serious delays and headache for both the employee and the customer.
To combat this, your communication app should be connected to your collaboration or content storage apps. In most organizations that could be an MS Sharepoint or Google Drive or perhaps Box or Dropbox. If the information stored in these places can’t easily be “served up” while the technician is working, it will certainly chip away at their productivity levels.
David Smith covered this impact of integrated communication apps in a really nice piece titled: “Conversational workspaces are the new face of enterprise collaboration” where he states:
“The conversation flow is key to collaboration in their work processes. This is no longer about the future of work, but about getting work done in the here and now.”
Smith goes on to say that providers in this market will have to focus on “business apps and workflow integration to reach lines of business leaders who are focused on business outcomes and helping people get their jobs done in specific processes.”
He further reinforces the point with – “It has to resonate with those folks. The tools will have to come down into the flow of how people actually work.”
For Zinc, that means mobile-first and real-time. For users to adopt a communication app, it must fit how they work in their daily lives and it must be intuitive and feature-rich. Businesses need to stop deploying multiple solutions and then expect employees to figure it out for themselves.
Get everyone on the same page and meet users where they are.