Empowering Business Collaboration
True empowerment comes from equipping your employees with the tools (and skills) they need to find information, contact key individuals and to share their own experience and knowledge as easily as possible. Previously we have talked about the importance of co-authoring to speed up operations – but there are many more ways to boost collaboration across your organisation. Here are three more to consider:
1. Finding information (and people) more quickly
In large organisations, it is generally impossible for everyone to know everything – or even who the subject matter expert is for a specific aspect of operations. And chasing this information takes time – as much as one day every week according to one source. That’s 20% of the whole week sacrificed on the altar of unproductivity.
Things appear to be getting worse too. Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics found that UK productivity is 15.1% behind the other G7 advanced economies for instance.
The solution is to implement technologies capable of surfacing contextual information more quickly, in much the same way that a search engine does. In Microsoft Office 365 this functionality is provided by Delve which acts like a constantly updated personal homepage within the system.
Delve learns as you use the platform, monitoring behaviour and information to build a good understanding of how you work, and what your work-related interests are. This information is then used to build a profile and to begin predicting what Delve thinks you are likely to want next. Importantly, Delve surfaces information, files and people from across all of the Office applications automatically.
Delve also includes a powerful personalised search engine that can be used to pinpoint the right person to speak to about your current project, or to locate a long-lost email attachment. And because the discovery process is constantly running in the background, the time required to surface exactly the right data is dramatically reduced.
2. Communicating across the globe
The global marketplace requires larger firms to maintain an international presence – but geographical differences are often compounded by language barriers. Instant messaging can make local teams more productive, but delays waiting for translations make social network tools less effective when communicating across the globe.
Again, Office 365 has a potential solution with their Yammer platform. Every message sent through Yammer comes with a “Translate” link; when your recipients click the link, the message is instantly translated into their language. Now the only delay in cross-border communications is the time taken to click that link, instantly boosting productivity and responsiveness.
Yammer currently supports 32 different languages, dramatically expanding the reach of your enterprise social network. Even if time zones and working hours do not overlap, every message is ready and waiting for one-click translation at your employees’ convenience.
Where language barriers are not a concern, Skype for Business provides “free” calling and conferencing, allowing project team members to schedule impromptu meetings. With instant availability and real time presence status, connecting with key stakeholders is dramatically simplified, regardless of physical location.
Navisite research found that the second biggest challenge to enabling effective organisation is the geographical distance between team members [link to Navisite research]. The combination of Yammer and Skype for Business can bring people closer together, and provides access to the information and ideas they need to become more productive - in real time. Yet despite these benefits 27% of employees do not have access to any kind of instant messaging tools [link to Navisite research].
3. Inter-tenant collaboration
When specifying collaboration platforms, most business decision makers focus on their internal processes and how best to empower their employees. But the modern business does not exist in isolation – partnerships are fundamental to their success.
True collaboration extends beyond the boundaries of your business and provides a way for suppliers and partners to work alongside your employees – in real time. Many organisations already employ inter-business supply chain and ERP systems, so why not adopt the same approach with productivity tools?
Microsoft Office 365 enables this collaboration through “inter-tenant” collaboration. Under this model, any business can expose key documents and services to their partners – as long as both parties are using Office 365.
Team Sites will revolutionise the way your employees collaborate in-house – but sharing these central repositories with external parties will further accelerate productivity. Instead of triggering the usual email trail of document and tracked changes, every stakeholder – internal and external – can find the definitive working copy located in the Team Site configured for their specific project. And if you’re worried about these rights being abused, Microsoft security settings allow you to restrict items to read-only access too.
The issue of internationalisation and translation applies to these working relationships too – and again, Yammer presents a workable solution. The same real-time translation features are available to Yammer groups that extend outside your organisation too. And obviously, when an issue needs in depth discussion – or a full team video call – Skype for Business provides an any time, any device medium for reaching the right people, anywhere in the world.
Find, connect, expand
Potential gains from collaboration are quickly wiped out where systems and processes hinder, rather than foster, closer work together. In order to realise the maximum benefits available from collaboration, your business needs to seriously consider the tools provided to employees.
They must be able to find key information and people quickly. Then they need to be able to connect with those people – even across language barriers. Finally, you need to expand your efforts – think about how you can better connect with suppliers, partners and other third parties who would benefit from enhanced access to your data and processes.
Ready to learn more about the advanced collaboration tools within Office 365 that will further transform and improve your productivity? Please get in touch.