The Future of Collaboration Products
“Extra, extra, read all about it!” It’s easy to see the fancy, exciting headlines about the next big thing in collaboration products and to scoff it off as marketing-ese or just noise. But the truth is, the idea of “seeing the other person on the screen and talking too” was viewed as something seen only the Star Trek viewscreen just a few decades ago, and some might have looked at parts of unified communications as being nothing more than AOL and ICQ type services that wouldn’t be worthwhile at work. Today, they’re in full use.
The next innovation in technology is going to pop up, and it’s going to be around sooner than you think. From the use of Moore’s Law to measure computer processing growth to fast-growing Internet bandwidth that makes high-quality video and web conferencing a reality, technology has always grown exponentially. Here are some of the unified communications and collaboration products and trends that may define the next few years.
The Death of Email
As one of the first technologies that used digital networks, email has had a great run as the de facto communication device for millions of businesses across the world. But many businesses are ready to let it go by way of the dinosaur. The lack of organization, prioritization and communication standards just aren’t cutting it, while new collaboration products are providing additional functionalities and organizational tags.
Email, however, won’t give up the ghost so easily. Because of its ubiquity, the email killer will have to take on email’s entire network, which won’t go down without a fight. During the transfer stage, businesses will most likely use some sort of internal network for employee-to-employee conversations while external communication will still be done through email. Whatever collaboration products that are being offered to replace it will need widespread adoption before email goes through its final death throes.
Company Intranets for SMBs
Many enterprise-sized companies have already established company Intranets to document the knowledge and skillsets necessary to accomplish certain proprietary tasks. Some Intranets may also have social network and project management functionalities, giving users the ability to “upvote” certain answers to certain questions, run projects and prioritize the most important tasks.
Intranets will most likely become more important for SMBs as the “Intranet-as-a-service” model proliferates through businesses. No matter the size of a company, being able to track information and ease communication is always needed. Cloud services, however, lower the cost of such an Intranet, allowing businesses with lower bottom lines to adopt the technology.
Offices Based on Flexible Principles
Anybody at least mildly familiar with UC&C will know of the concept of open offices. At the front, the idea sounds great – higher collaboration, increased productivity and lower costs per worker for businesses – because department walls have been pulled down and desks are unassigned. But that adoption has backlashed as research is starting to show an open office only works for certain companies that thrive on collaborative efforts. Others cite frustration with “volume control” and higher stress in large open spaces.
That doesn’t mean the open office will leave so easily. It may just evolve by adding flexibility. The problem is so many facets of work change so much depending on the task, and offices will need multiple areas depending on what’s necessary. Sometimes the open office floor plan is perfect, and sometimes a group may need a cubby to talk in private, or an individual will need a closed door to dig into important work. Instead of just concentrating on the open floor plan, companies will focus on flexibility and making workers more efficient instead of trapping them in a floor plan they can’t work within.
Another aspect of flexible office spaces is the idea of specialized spaces where certain technologies are better suited. For example, companies can set up specialized video conferencing rooms where sound and video quality are top notch, or they can create rooms dedicated to generating creative work with other individuals remotely.
Flexibility Through Specialization
The future of collaboration products will concentrate on both flexibility and specialization to create more efficiency and heightened productivity. Workers will be able to choose the right tools and space for the job and make the switch simply and easily, maybe multiple times throughout a project or even a conversation.
No matter what, collaborative tech is about making that conversation easier and ensuring communication is done without undue stress about the tools in use. New trends follow this model. By giving workers more than just email to communicate, extending Intranet functionalities to SMBs and adopting flexible workspaces that integrate with collaborative tech, workers are getting even more tools to increase productivity and ensure they have the right tools for the job.
Subscribe to our LinkedIn page for more updates.