davidc
David Carr
September 2, 2016
Digital workplace
Messaging

Collaboration Workstreams: The Key to Digital Transformation (Webinar Recap)

000Businesses today need to communicate and collaborate better so they can adapt faster to rapid change and increased competition. That’s the reason RingCentral Office added Glip, moving beyond its roots as a cloud phone system to become a comprehensive suite of communication and collaboration tools.

It’s also the reason RingCentral sponsored a webinar on how to “Up Your Collaboration Game in the Age of Digital Transformation,” hosted by No Jitter and Enterprise Connect (replay available). What follows is a recap of the major themes.

With digital businesses reshaping so much of the economy, all organizations are recognizing the need to be more agile, but “Your organization can’t really be agile if your people aren’t agile,” said featured speaker Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research.

The demand for greater speed and agility is driving interest in mobile-first and flexible technologies for supporting communications and collaboration, Kerravala said.

His thesis is that at a time when Amazon.com, Uber, and Airbnb are making such outsize impacts on whole industries, businesses of all sorts need to move faster and embrace change. “But constantly changing fast is something companies have traditionally had difficulty with,” Kerravala said.

Communication and collaboration technologies ought to help employees connect with each other and work more productively, but the technologies marketed as “unified communications” traditionally haven’t been as unified, integrated, and flexible as they ought to be, he said. Tools that are awkward to work with can get in the way of productivity rather than enhancing it. The previous generation of unified communications tools also tended to be more focused on the communications needs of the individual when what organizations need for better teamwork is communication and collaboration at the level of the team, he said.

Kerravala and another No Jitter author, Dave Michels, have been among the main proponents of the idea that team messaging — or what they call workstream communications and collaboration — represents a significant advance beyond the unified communications and social collaboration waves of the past couple of decades. By their definition, a workstream tool includes multiple modes of communication, including both text-based group messaging and real-time communications such as video chat and phone system integration. In parallel with the webinar, Kerravala published a No Jitter article on the same themes, Step Up Your Digital Game with Team Collaboration.

I participated in the webinar as the author of Social Collaboration for Dummies, giving my perspective on how workstream platforms differ from enterprise social products such as Yammer. Quick summary: social collaboration platforms were built around inviting employees to post information into a shared corporate space and build their professional network within the workplace. Yet employees didn’t always develop that habit when email was often easier.

Team messaging has more momentum partly because they are tools for communication, first and foremost, providing a more direct replacement for exchanging email with other team members — and team messaging builds a daily habit of communication that teams can then build on with task management, video chat and other tools provided by a platform like Glip. (See also my article for Forbes, Why Messaging Has Momentum In Business Collaboration).

Ted Jaffe, Glip product manager at RingCentral, wrapped up with an overview of how Glip works, both independently and as a feature of RingCentral Office.

“It’s your communication system, but it also gives you all the tools you need to do your work in one place,” Jaffe said.

By itself, Glip is available to try for free, with upgrades that add video chat and administrative features. As part of RingCentral Office, Glip features click-to-call dialing of colleagues and interactive conference call setup for teams. Those tools are available from within every Glip conversation.

Exchanging messages through team chat keeps team members in continual contact with each other, but when those conversations bog down, having the option to switch to voice or video makes it easier to get to a decision, Jaffe said.

And that’s really the point. This kind of communication and collaboration “enhances the workflow to allow you to make those decisions today,” Jaffe said.

What the Audience Thought

Although obviously not a scientific survey, the polls included in the webinar brought some interesting results.

Question 1: Who is using team messaging or workstream collaboration tools and how widely?03

Kerravala said most IT people tend to think of their organizations as “just beginning to explore” workstream technologies, but he suspects that because of shadow IT this form of communication and collaboration is probably more widespread than they realize. One reason workstream communications and collaboration is easily adopted is it works well at the level of the team, without requiring company-wide adoption.

Question 2: What’s the most attractive aspect of workstream communications and collaboration?02

Most of the audience agreed that boosting organizational agility is the whole point of exploring these technologies.

Question 3: How important are voice and video to these platforms?01

Almost 30% of the audience deemed voice and video essential, and nearly two-thirds thought it would be helpful to be able to switch between modes of communication and collaboration.

For more, tune into the replay. If you haven’t yet tried Glip, please sign up.

As Kerravala said, “You have to try these tools to really understand them.” That’s certainly true for Glip.