Businesses today know that success in the marketplace requires an understanding of knowledge management and collaboration as well as increased options for flexible work/life balance for workers. Organizational psychology backs up the pursuit of open collaboration, and in many cases, a flexible work environment inspires loyalty and productivity. Combined with a younger workforce interested in new technology, these changes have significantly impacted enterprise-level collaboration and raised many questions for business leaders.
Technology has advanced at breathtaking speeds over the last decade or so. New devices, solutions, and downloadable free apps are flooding the marketplace and the workplace. Many workers complete a number of activities on mobile devices without thinking. For instance, they message friends and family as well as colleagues, prospects, and clients daily. By incorporating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, enterprises can take advantage of these platforms by allowing workers to use tools already at their disposal.
Hurdles to BYOD Collaboration
With this trend, workers can use their own devices and may even prefer their own productivity tools to the clunky solutions a company offers. However, with the influx of mobile platforms and systems potentially accessing sensitive data, there’s a lot to consider before opening the doors to BYOD. For example:
- How do you wrangle disparate apps? Services like WhatsApp, Google Drive, Skype, WebEx, various Instant Messengers, and more can help personnel share and create data. There are countless solutions available, so it’s vital that a company has a policy in place dictating what workers can use to manage and send information.
- What happens when an employee leaves the organization? Since workers are using their own devices, companies must address the potential problems that can come from workers leaving with that information. If it’s not addressed, management may never be able to access or secure that data.
CIOs and IT departments must look at how the younger generation is implementing BYOD in the workplace, and it’s important that a policy is put in place to handle these and similar concerns. With this surge of innovation, security and control must be addressed.
Implementing Security to Safeguard Collaboration
The ability to collaborate easily, whether in an office setting or from a hotel in Bangladesh, is the result of workplace acceptance of new technologies, but it also sets off warning signals in information technology (IT) departments. As cool, efficient, and functional as these solutions are, they present a real security threat. Many IT teams have to maintain an approach that involves proactive, preventive measures, and fast reactive behaviors.
Most IT departments want fewer answers or a consolidated solution. Luckily, when used properly, many of the collaborative services and enterprise platforms that connect to the internet feature two levels of protection:
- The solution vendor often supplies updates, particularly for subscription solutions.
- The IT team uses general network security and access control to add another level of protection based on the latest industry knowledge.
Maintaining Control of Solutions in Management
With so many people in favor of adopting certain technologies, management may have a tough time finding solutions that make sense for the long term. Businesses today have to think about the face value of a product and ensure it integrates well with current solutions, fits easily within workflows, and is scalable. In terms of collaboration, that means looking for solutions that offer secure mobile functionality, integration with other key platforms, and multifunctional collaboration tools.
Subrah Iyar, CEO of Moxtra, a multilayer collaboration solution, tells us, “As users adopt an increasingly mobile lifestyle, they want to stay engaged with their business processes and other team members to be able to quickly deliver on projects and get work done.”
He went on to discuss how legacy enterprise application providers are starting to extend their apps with embedded collaboration technology—including everything from real-time communication to document sharing to task management to document collaboration—to increase engagement and cater to their users needs.
Open communication about new technology can help facilitate the process. In a work environment mixed with digitally savvy Millennials as well as older employees, having input from all the people who will use a solution on a regular basis can help companies choose the right collaboration tools.
Strong technology policies can also help. The mobilization of the workforce means managers may work with a team spread halfway across the world and can’t control their regular workday environment as they once could. A well-constructed technology policy can help improve the way employees use tools wherever they work.
At a coffee shop, at home, or on-the-go, a well-trained employee can help keep the mobile work environment safe while enjoying the flexibility that comes with mobility.
What Collaboration Tools in this New Environment Need
To help remote workforces make the most of their flexible schedules while maintaining or improving productivity, companies should look carefully at collaboration tool features. Having a secure asynchronous and real-time collaboration environment that keeps projects moving forward can help businesses succeed with teams of remote employees.
Team members who prefer to get tasks done at night can do so as easily as early risers can. Real-time collaboration allows for clarification, problem solving, and other tasks when needed, but it also supports employees in independent tasks equally.
For a positive collaboration tool experience, the solutions should offer seamless interconnectivity between the core tools employees need and fuel content and production-based activities.
The trend of embedding collaboration into legacy apps, and creating new generation mobile collaborative apps is taking off in 2016. Teams can now expand simple, text-based chats into conversations rich with audio, video, and web clips, as well as share any file from their mobile device, desktop, or cloud storage services. Real-time chat, asynchronous messaging, document storage, file sharing, and other tools together in one integrated technology provide security and enhance productivity in a manageable way for legacy applications and companies of all sizes.
The business world will continue to value collaboration as these kinds of tools become more widespread. Make sure your company has the equipment and policies needed to help employees get the most out of their eight-hour workdays with collaboration tools made for the business of today as well as the business of tomorrow.
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