Collaboration can make any business better. Nielsen research found that collaboration increases creative output, and that collaborative teams are more likely to identify concepts that will perform well with their target customer group. Beyond just performance, collaboration fosters teamwork and enhances employee morale.
Here are seven technologies that are helping businesses drive collaboration right now.
Video conferencing has become a go-to collaboration technology for companies of all sizes. Once limited to boardrooms and large meeting venues, its reach and accessibility have been greatly expanded thanks to the cloud and new PC-based and mobile solutions. Because it replicates nearly all facets of communication, from tone of voice to facial cues, video conferencing solutions inspire the camaraderie and empathy that are critical to collaborative solutions. Besides increasing productivity and fostering stronger, connected relationships among employees, clients, and vendors, video collaboration can also help businesses reduce travel costs.
Interactive white boards
Widely used in academia, interactive whiteboard technology has been adopted by the business world as a critical collaboration and productivity tool. The No. 1 way interactive whiteboards can improve workflow in business is by increasing engagement in collaborative productions, according to this recent article.
Interactive whiteboards boost communication, make document annotation easier and more effective, and enable a greater range of data sharing and interconnectivity when they include mobile capabilities. Touch-screen whiteboards eliminate the need for a mouse or pointer, making them even more collaborative.
This is a collaborative technology that has been around for a long time, but the latest generation of projection equipment takes its capabilities to a whole new level. For example, Epson's BrightLink Pro line combines the qualities traditionally sought in a high-end business projector--brightness, widescreen resolution, split-screen capability-;with features and versatility that allow it to function as a multimedia collaborative core in a unified communications solution. It integrates the utility of a whiteboard, projector, and interactive display; easily connects to video conferencing equipment; turns nearly any flat surfaceinto an interactive area where users can annotate; and provides connectivity for mobile devices.
Architecture and engineering may be "old school" technologies, but they can have a tremendous impact on driving collaboration when applied to workspaces. Research published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) concluded that office space is not just an amortized asset but a strategic tool for growth. Much of its value lies in its ability to bust silos by increasing encounters and unplanned interactions--i.e., opportunities for collaboration--between knowledge workers both inside and outside the organization. The HBR article documented increases in productivity, size of business network, and size of social circle among workers using collaborative workspaces such as co-working spaces and huddle rooms.
Social platforms for business
Collaboration has become an essential part of the employee experience, according to the "Forrester Wave: Enterprise Collaboration Report, Q4 2016." Collaboration apps and platforms allow businesses to share information, locate experts, coordinate projects, discuss best practices, and build communities within and across the organization. Among the top-rated enterprise social networking platforms for 2017 are Atlassian, HipChat,Asana, Slack, Igloo, Bloomfire,Yammer, and Basecamp.Many of these solutions now incorporate Facebook-like social media aspects, which makes them more attractive to employees, especially millennials.
Machine learning tools
More and more businesses are using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to make their operations faster and more efficient, according to experts at Accenture, but the same technology can improve collaboration among workers. Collokia, for example, provides a variety of plugins that run in a company's natural work environment and use machine learning to collect information and map employee skills. It analyzes the collective experience to help eliminate repeated mistakes, accelerate learning, better leverage unknown skills, and automatically connect people with other colleagues, research, solutions, and sources of knowledge.
Maximizing positive outcomes from workplace collaboration requires vertical as well as horizontal technologies. Horizontal tools enable peer-to-peer collaboration (among employees or with peers at other organizations), while vertical tools ease collaboration between company leaders and those they manage. Research shows that passion/employee engagement is a key driver of organizational performance, and participation drives engagement. Crowdsourcing tools allow companies to harness the wisdom of the crowd, not just from their own employees, but also from customers, partners, even the public at large. Spigit, a leader in this space, uses analytics and algorithms to help businesses identify their best crowdsourced ideas, assess associated costs and risks, and predict future value. POPin is a tool that helps leaders unite and engage the organization in solving how to achieve strategic goals.
Driving new opportunities
The old saying "two heads are better than one" certainly holds up in the digital-driven age. Technology is driving collaboration in ways we could not have imagined a decade ago. Tools we rely on today will likely get even better in the future-;and they're sure to be joined by some entirely new contenders to create unprecedented opportunity for businesses of all sizes.
This content was produced on behalf of Epson by Inc. Studio.