Optimizing collaboration: Don’t get lost in the cloud
by Julia Stuhltrager
We discuss some considerations for collaboration in the cloud.
Read time: 4 minutes
With everything the cloud can offer your business, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Cloud infrastructure and applications have a number of potential business benefits, but one of the areas of greatest potential is their ability to revolutionize business collaboration. In a global survey of 532 business executives¹ from a wide range of industries, 55 percent felt that “cloud-based solutions are no mere evolution, but rather represent a true revolution in collaborative effectiveness.”
Better collaboration can increase productivity, get you closer to customers, make your products more innovative, and your business more competitive, and help you attract and retain top talent. A fundamental component of growing your business, collaboration and cloud-based tools have tremendous potential to extend your reach and foster productive connection between employees and with your customers and partners.
But with so many opportunities to use cloud-based applications to improve collaboration in your business, where do you get started?
Collaboration starts from within
Reassessing and redesigning information processes is fundamental to creating a more successfully collaborative workspace, whether you’re employing a cloud-based application or not. Technology alone is not a solution, and focusing your efforts here alone is a recipe for your collaboration goals to end up lost in the cloud. Instead, the key to improved workforce collaboration is in the underlying processes that enable mobile workers to access more comprehensive, accurate, and timely information.
The critical first step is assessing your information processes. Identify specific tasks, and how each step contributes to the business goal you are trying to accomplish — whether that is to serve customers better, generate more leads for sales, deliver more competitive products, or meet regulatory requirements. In organizations today, it is imperative to look for how the information flow does (or does not) cross Line of Business (LoB) boundaries and potential points of integration with other processes and systems.
Bear in mind that the information needs of your mobile workforce are changing constantly and that mobile workers have distinctly different preferences for the way they consume and use information. This has significant implications for the usability, training, and adoption of new collaboration applications, as well as the success of your collaboration initiatives.
One best practice is to actually follow one of your mobile workers through a specific process, such as onboarding a new customer or responding to a service request, step by step. Note where they get their information if they get all they need in a timely fashion, and in the format they require.
Research has found significant gaps in how workers and managers perceive the effectiveness of their information processes. This is a prime opportunity to solicit feedback on what could help employees do their job better.
- ¹Cisco. Forbes Insights. May 2013
- ²A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper commissioned by Ricoh, “The New Workplace Reality: Enterprises Must Capture the Soul and Spirit of the Emerging Worker”, December 2013.
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