July 31, 2023 - Blog

Virtual Collaboration – Benefits and Challenges for your Business

Over the last few years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid digital collaboration has become the norm. Although millions of workers are living with the challenges of virtual work, this level of online collaboration can be considered less valuable than in-person interaction. Appropriate and considered use of modern workplace technology in this context supplies a unique opportunity to not only alleviate these problems but make can give advantages to virtual teams by supplying innovative solutions for collaboration.

 

The Radical Impact of the Pandemic

At the start of the pandemic, few organisations were fully prepared to work remotely. According to research, most organisations found their underlying technology and remote access infrastructure provision did not meet their business needs. Based on these constraints and wider cultural factors, only 17% of organizations were fully ready for remote work. Despite this, overnight, companies had to deploy an infrastructure that would support integrated, productivity-focused collaboration among their dispersed workforces and enable them to keep them connected to partners, suppliers, customers, and other members of their wider business ecosystem.

Virtual collaboration and engagement platforms such as Zoom, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, and Slack became instrumental in meeting this challenge and helping organisations bring virtual collaboration capabilities to a level comparable to in-person collaboration.

Organisationally and technologically, this was no easy feat for stakeholders and users to deliver varying levels of corporate infrastructure, including compute capability, mobility, and connectivity. Users needed a seamless, similar, and secure experience across geographies and devices, but this was not universally delivered at an organisational level.

Organisations also needed to be in tune with how their employees made use of and used these platforms as patterns changed and challenges to the status quo appeared quickly. From the early stage of enforced wide-scale adoption and the ongoing predominant use of video conferencing; users quickly realised if they were going to be more permanently based remotely, they would need features such as meeting transcription and virtual whiteboards for better collaboration.

 

Benefits of Virtual Collaboration

Virtual collaboration solutions have become the new primary UI (User Interface) for employee engagement.

According to Metrigy’s Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22 research study of more than 475 global organisations, 68% of companies had adopted team collaboration solutions by the end of 2021.

Metrigy’s research showed that deploying team collaboration apps supplies demonstrable business benefits, including the following:

  • Fewer meetings by replacing status calls with messaging-based updates
  • Increased productivity by centralising communications into contextual-based workspaces that are integrated with other apps and data
  • Cost savings by improving operational efficiencies
  • Reduction in email by eliminating difficult-to-follow and unlinked conversations related to a project, task, or activity
  • Increased revenue by enabling customer-facing individuals to quickly get answers they need to address opportunities
  • Increased adoption of digital native solutions and a focus on the increased adoption of contactless process interactions.

 

Ecosystem Collaboration – Going one step beyond

Those organisations that aim to supply the highest return on investment for their collaboration deployments are now extending “collaboration spaces” beyond existing company boundaries, to enable partners, suppliers and even customers to take part on an equal basis.

This approach mitigates email for business-to-business and business-to-customer communications and brings the benefits of contextual engagement to an even wider set of scenarios and workflows.

Today, most external engagement is through enabling federated, guest access to required collaboration spaces. This type of distributed and collaborative access to digital capabilities should now be increasingly provided by native collaboration platforms.

 

The Importance of Governance and Security

As organisations settle into evolving team collaboration environments, they must continue to review their remote work policies and processes to make sure these interactions are governed and secure.

The security concerns associated with team collaboration platforms are the same as with other business applications: phishing, mobile vulnerabilities, compliance, data protection and data breach avoidance.

Therefore, collaboration platforms should be held to the same standards and scrutiny as other corporate applications and follow regulatory requirements.

 

Addressing Digital Interaction Challenges

In many cases, the need for urgent, responsive, and sometimes reactive, siloed operational decisions has resulted in many organisations utilising multiple collaboration tools for disparate, individually justifiable reasons.

These challenges include:

  • Application integration diversity and complexity
  • Data governance challenges
  • Understanding risks and enforcing security across many platforms
  • Increased costs of duplicate provision and siloed inefficiencies
  • Greater burden for IT departments

One-way organisations can lessen their vulnerability to the siloed responses and outcomes stated above, is to rationalise the number of collaboration platforms they support in their enterprise and combine their approaches.

 

The Future of Modern Working

The modern workplace has changed forever in the wake of the pandemic and associated organisational change.

Few organisations have returned to those old ways of working, with virtual and remote working now the default in many companies. Face-to-face interactions are seen as a nice to have rather than the norm.

The future organisations will be defined by the business value and outcomes they can deliver rather than the location and physical interactions needed to produce them.

The most evolved and effective digitally aligned organisations which succeed will proactively recognise and use technology as an opportunity to challenge the current business “status quo” and redefine those processes that truly add business value.

In addition, virtual collaboration will get smarter because increasing levels of AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be embedded deeper into collaboration platforms.

Automation will be applied to meeting invite lists, post-meeting actions, workflow improvements and other collaboration efforts. All driving more productive connections, deeper insights, and business growth, empowering people, and teams to be their best.

 

What’s Next?

Safely evolving the future collaboration capability of your business successfully means using appropriate technology and data governance from the very start. To find out more about how Version 1 can help accelerate your organisation’s digital workplace practices through technology and advanced data management, contact us today!

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