Enterprise collaboration is human nature

Barry Cutts

Thursday 15 February 2018

As the digital workplace becomes more amorphous, and workforces more mobile and less pinned down to one location, how can we present a more combined force than ever before? And how are we becoming closer together when we’re so far away from each other?

The more an enterprise encourages collaboration, the more it strengthens itself from within. It’s simply an unavoidable truth that two heads think better than one.

Collaboration is beneficial for more than the self-evident commercial claims around boosting business performance and driving better project outcomes. On a basic level alone, collaboration can help us generate ideas and harness faster results – together with the feel-good factor that comes with it.

Here are other reasons why collaboration is important.

Agility as good as it gets

Smartsheet’s 2017 State of Enterprise Collaboration report found that most of its 1000 respondents consider collaboration apps “essential to their ability to compete effectively”. The main drivers for cloud collaboration apps were identified as increased productivity and an improved collaborative culture.

The ability to multitask, simultaneously bounce ideas off others, open a quick messaging exchange or a video chat anywhere and while on the move is agility as good as it gets. It will get even better over time, but right now agility is in its prime and collaboration can only enhance it.

Mammoth achievements

Collaboration is human nature and has been around as long as humans have. Get a whole gang of colleagues from the village to help you fell a mammoth and you’ll all be enjoying dinner far sooner than if you attempted it alone.

Collaboration first entered business culture in a significant way with the advent of Unified Communications back in the mid to late ’90s. Around this same time, most of Generation Z was getting itself born (Mark Zuckerberg was 10 years old in 1994).

Unified Communications brought teleconferencing to the fore, combined with instant messaging and Presence (the technology that gives users an immediate view of other users’ availability within the company). This was the era of that emerging ‘joined-up’ organisation, where a degree of flexibility was afforded to location-based working and easier access could be gained to ‘knowledge workers’. In a collaboration-driven organisation, no one is alone, no problems linger, no delays in responsiveness are necessary.

Meeting expectations

Collaboration has changed considerably, as has the workplace where it happens. Perhaps the most significant change has been in people and their skills, their expectations and intuition when it comes to assimilating mobility, cloud and flexibility

Only now are organisations responding warmly to such changes, as opposed to early-day resistance towards approaches like BYOD, which were referred to as the consumerisation of IT. The overlap is complete, the fluidity between work-life and personal life is total, the singularity is almost here.

Competitive advantage

Collaboration depends on two essential networks. One is technological: the telecommunications core that makes everything possible, from wireless connection to mobile communication to the essential collaboration conduit of the digital workplace. The other is the people network on both a personal and corporate level.

From the enterprise perspective, Accenture suggests we are in “the age of the ecosystems”, where “businesses must develop a strong ecosystem of partners stretching across the customer value chain”. Doing so leans strongly on relationship development and cross-cultural empathy. In the Smartsheet report, almost 80 per cent of respondents feel they’re at a competitive disadvantage if they are not using the latest collaboration apps.

Motivation

Deloitte’s survey, Transitioning to the future of work and the workplace, stated that C-suite executives believe “the future of work will be very different from the way things have happened in the past and that their roles need to adapt to the new organisational environments they will be leading”. As millennials and Zers increasingly saturate the workplace, they will expect organisations without walls, often without hierarchies and very often without desks. Keeping them motivated will depend on meeting their expectations, with the added benefit that such strategies will sharpen the competitive edge.

There are multiple ‘I’s in team

When people across an organisation collaborate, disciplines learn from each other, experience is passed on from those who have it to those who don’t. The sharing and achieving of goals creates an atmosphere of success; a contagious enthusiasm and demonstration of achievement that enriches a working environment – one that people want to be part of.

Today’s winning enterprise gets all this – understands new and shifting, reshapes and redefines workplace parameters and is fully in-sync with the importance of ‘I’ in team. Empower the individual and you’ll be building the team.

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