There’s no questioning the use of workplace collaboration technology has increased in recent years. In fact, the market for unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is “growing at an impressive pace”, according to PWC, which expects it to grow 11 per cent each year until 2018. The problem with this rapid growth is that for the software to deliver productivity benefits it has to be regularly used and trusted by the entire business ecosystem. If it isn’t, then staff will quickly fall back on phone an email to get the job done.
Don’t get me I have nothing against phone calls. Knowing when to pick up the phone, rather than using some other form of digital communication, is an essential business skill. Making and taking phone calls reliably may not be new but it is still essential. Despite being often abused and misused, email also has an important place in business communication.
What’s really frustrating is not that we use these tools but that we use them when there are better tools available; typically because switching from one mode of communication and collaboration to another is clumsy, involving a mess of separate logins and browser plugins. Where I see an opportunity to break this pattern is by offering a single stream of communications that flows across all devices and flexes to support multiple modes of communication and collaboration: team chat, document sharing, project and task management, as well as voice and video calls and conferences.
The latest generation of team chat tools have garnered a lot of attention as an email alternative that keeps team members in continual communication with each other in a way that email does not. Beyond that, team chat has the potential to grow into something much more interesting; a hub for all modes of communication and collaboration. This is what some analysts call workstream communications and collaboration (WCC), not to be mistaken with unified communications and collaboration (UCC), which has been more about extendingtelecom technology than delivering tr “unified” experiences.
Team chat becomes the heartbeat that keeps the conversation alive. For example, you can add structure to a message by turning it into a task with an assignment and a deadline. A task pops up in the same stream as other messages but it adds accountability. When I post a task to a team conversation, everyone sees the work I have everyone will be able to track whether it gets completed on time. That’s one of many examples of enhancing the message stream with application logic. Whether this is accomplished by building a feature like task management into the product or with an API link to another tool, the important thing is to deliver a smooth flowing user experience.