Workplace collaboration technology to mature in 2014

By Chris Lee

Collaboration in the workplace has come a long way in the last year, according to MindLink Software, a provider of real-time business-critical collaboration and persistent chat technology. Analyst group Gartner predicts that by 2016, 50 per cent of large organisations will operate an internal Facebook-like collaborative social network.

Reflecting this market evolution and maturity, MindLink Software believes that 2014 will be the year when team collaboration comes into its own as organisations seek to “unlock the untapped knowledge” held within their ranks.

NMK caught up with Annekathrin Hase, director of strategy and marketing at MindLink to learn more.

Collaboration comes naturally to millenials

According to Hase, collaborative technology is now second nature to the growing generation of so-called ‘millennial’ employees (those born between 1980 and 1990) in the workplace. As a result, organisations now have to cope with individuals creating their own social networks and other forms of collaboration if they do not already exist for them to use.

“This can, from a practical and compliance point of view, create serious headaches for IT and security managers as these self-created, informal forums can become difficult to monitor and manage,” she warned.

To address this issue, companies will take a more proactive and hands-on approach in 2014 toward creating and owning collaboration networks, Hase believes. Not only will this ensure compliance regulations are adhered to, but it will bring the benefits of social collaboration to the wider organisation, not just a few socially-savvy individuals.

Collaboration no longer a fad

Collaboration will no longer be seen as the latest ‘must-have’ technology, Hase argues. Instead, heads of collaboration are taking in-depth looks at how their businesses currently operate and how improved collaboration can help teams work to meet business goals and objectives.

“To ensure optimum success, 2014 will see more collaboration programmes rolled out including continual feedback cycles and integration with cultural change agents and project champions to ensure usage remains high to achieve return on investment,” she told NMK.

Factor mobile into collaboration strategies

Tablet shipments will continue to rocket in 2014 and the growth and demand for these devices will further enable employees to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products, Hase believes.

“From a mobile perspective, we predict further uptake of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) approach across organisations and 2014 will see more cross-platform integration, including natively-written applications that function as add-ons to core platforms,” she added.

Employees now expect workplace technology to be comparable to that used in their personal lives, Hase argues. So, in order to be fully-beneficial, collaborative tools will  reflect the same ease of use employees are familiar with in order to encourage participation, for example, the use of @mentioned or #hashtags which originated in Twitter, but which are now extending into other applications, she advised.

“Extending the choice of platform and device concept for collaboration further, we expect to see greater integration of voice technology into the collaborative process,” Hase said. “Now voice technology is nothing new, but integrating it into collaboration tools means that the conversation can be recalled and accessed in the same way as the written word.”

Hase believes we have reached a turning point in how organisations will foster more collaborative teams to the workplace. By taking a more proactive and strategic approach, she concluded that we will see collaborative tools tailored to reflect the specific needs of individuals, teams and the business, which she argues will increase  productivity and ensure that all three are united in driving the organisation forward.

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