Posts

The best tools for improving productivity at the enterprise level

In Forrester’s introduction to their Enterprise Collaboration Playbook, it states that “many of today’s collaboration technology initiatives fall well short of their transformational potential.” 

While many enterprises view collaboration as a critical tool, most are at an early stage of learning how to implement it effectively. 

That’s why we’ve put together 8 tips you can use to achieve more value from your collaboration initiatives.

Putting collaboration into perspective

A lasting collaboration platform requires careful implementation. But is it worth it? 

Yes – especially when you consider the following statistics:

  • Over half of workers (58%) waste approximately one hour per day looking for information
  • Over 80% of workers, educators, and executives blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration
  • In an average 40-hour work week, workers spend 28 hours writing emails, searching and coordinating with others within their organization
  • On average, workers waste six weeks per year searching for lost documents

These frightening statistics make it obvious that acquiring and ensuring the adoption of collaboration tools is a vital part of maintaining your enterprise’s competitive advantage. 

The issues discussed below will help you get the most from collaboration tools.

1. Design collaboration tools around real-world requirements

Start by finding out how collaboration can streamline business processes in your enterprise. When you can communicate how collaboration will reduce effort and increase access to information, you’ll be able to pinpoint the specific collaboration strategies you need to develop. In short, make sure that you align proposed collaboration tools with your business needs.

2. Communicate your strategies

Employees need to understand the strategy driving business goals such as collaboration. With that information, they feel more comfortable about using the collaboration tools and know what level of information they can share using the tools.

“70% of employees believe that collaboration platforms are changing their workplace interactions.”

Deloitte

3. Communicate appropriate collaboration behavior

When management defines their expectations about how collaboration will work, employees will follow their lead. Provide examples of successful collaborations. If you’re not sure how to do that, take the time to create those scenarios.

Also, keep in mind that collaboration isn’t just about new technology. 

Collaboration will change the way that employees work and who they work with. Without a vision of what collaboration means, individual employees must go through their own learning curve. Not only that, but they may come to different conclusions about how to use collaboration tools, which will cause frustration and actually reduce productivity.

4. Get employee input

As IT rolls out collaboration tools, get input from employees. Find out if the tools are helping them, making their work easier, helping them to reduce wasted time, and more. Great initial use of collaboration tools is to use them to collaborate with employees to fine-tune a collaboration platform.

5. Make collaboration tools part of business processes

This is another way to help your employees incorporate communication tools into their workflow. Employees set adrift with collaboration tools are typically too close to their workflow to identify accurately all the places where collaboration would be a benefit.

Your collaboration strategy needs to include updating processes and procedures to include the use of collaboration tools. Especially in the early stages, this will give employees the roadmap they need to integrate those tools into their daily activities.

6. Promote closer team relationships

Your employees coordinate their activities now, even if they aren’t using technology to do it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re functioning as a team of collaborators. During implementation, arrange for people who will be collaborating using technology to meet. Have each person explain their role in the process.

“Gaining a reluctant acceptance to participate [in collaboration efforts] can be a definite challenge for your business.”

Forbes

Meetings like that usually experience one or more situations where someone says something like, “Ah, so that’s why you’re always bugging me for the status update report!” When team members appreciate the role each person plays, they’re much more likely to come together as collaborators.

7. Rethink departmental boundaries

Collaboration technology will make it possible to accomplish goals in different ways, in addition to streamlining existing processes. As your enterprise moves toward a new mindset about the best way to get things done, you may find that you need new ways to locate talent internally. You may also find that you’re using that talent in different ways.

For example, an analyst in accounting traditionally spends their time working within the accounting department. However, if there is a large call for that type of expertise to get projects completed more quickly, you may need to change your mindset.

Perhaps you need to assign an analyst as a corporate resource, which will free them to contribute to a variety of teams as part of their process. It may end up making more sense to do that rather than having the core team bring the project to a specific level of completion, and then “turn it over” to the accounting department for their input.

8. Monitor adoption and results

Monitoring adoption and results need to happen at an enterprise level. You need to know:

  • If employees are using collaboration technology effectively
  • If the results you predicted in your business case are realized

Reaching a seamless integration of collaboration technology into your work environment will require continuous improvement. You’ll need regular feedback on the results of the project in order to drive that improvement.

Communication platforms for the enterprise

Corporate agility is a crucial component of remaining competitive in today’s business environment. Enterprise collaboration can help your organization keep or improve that competitive edge. That should put collaboration platforms and technology and their use at the top of your priority list.

And no worries –ISG can help you with the heavy lifting. We design, deliver and operate our voice and collaboration platform services and solutions with care.

  • Custom business communication security infrastructure
  • Voice, video, and data integrations on custom platforms
  • Full integration of collaboration applications with any device, anytime, anywhere
  • Solution design and implementation
  • 24/7/365 Managed Services
  • Real people – local – ready to help!

With our team of highly certified professionals, you’ll have all the support you need, at all hours of the day.

Call us today to find learn more about ISG’s ability to help you build the ultimate enterprise collaboration platform.

How cloud infrastructure can help the retail sector

Cloud computing has caught on in a big way. A recent report from Right Scale found that 81 percent of the enterprise sector has adopted a multi-cloud system in at least some way. Public cloud adoption rates have continued to climb, as well, with the report noting that 92 percent of users now employ cloud technology (up from 89 percent in 2017). Across the board, cloud networks are gaining usership due to its improved interfacing, less dependence on in-house technical teams and flexible program structure.

However, some industry verticals continue to lag behind. The latest international Bitglass survey found that the retail sector has been slow to adopt cloud infrastructure. Only 47.8 percent of responding retail organizations had deployed the often-used Microsoft Office 365 suite, and Amazon Web Services – the most popular cloud system – was only used by 9 percent.

In short, retail is being left behind, and that lag is a serious problem for the industry – in part because retail is a sector that can profit immensely from successful cloud integration. However, cybersecurity concerns and technical knowledge limitations may be slowing down the adoption rate.

Taking advantage of mobile hardware
Almost everyone has a smartphone, that’s not an exaggeration. According to Pew research data, 77 percent of Americans have this hardware, and that number has been climbing steadily. Since smartphones are becoming cheaper and more user friendly, it is unlikely to think this device will be replaced in the near future.

Because smartphones are so ubiquitous and convenient, consumers are using them for a wide variety of tasks, including shopping. OuterBox found that, as of early 2018, precisely 62 percent of shoppers had made a purchase through their phones within the last six months. Another 80 percent had used their smartphones to compare products and deals while inside a store.

With a cloud infrastructure, retailers can better take advantage of this mobile world. Successful retail locations should consider maintaining at least two online networks – one for customers and another for employees. This setup will prevent bandwidth lag and help keep the consumer away from sensitive information. In addition, creating a mobile experience that is user friendly and seamlessly interwoven with the physical shopping experience is paramount.

Rather than building such a system from the ground up, retailers can take advantage of the numerous infrastructure-as-a-service cloud options available, leveraging a reliable third party rather than an in-house IT team.

Shoppers are already augmenting their experience with external online information. Shoppers are already augmenting their experiences with external online information.

Getting ahead of the latest trends
Data drives business intelligence, this is true in every enterprise sector. In retail, housing the right products can mean the difference between turning a profit and going out of business. However, retailers still using traditional sales reporting will be slow to react to shopping trends, as these reports can take months to compile.

Data analytics is the actionable side of big data. In retail, customers convey valuable information about shopping habits before they even enter the store, but if this data is not being captured, it is essentially useless. Bringing in an encompassing data analytics solution, which can read information such as store purchases, response to sales and even social media reaction, can provide retailers with extra information to make actionable decisions.

“This analysis removes the guesswork about what will sell and which styles will flop on the shelves,” Roman Kirsch, CEO of fashion outlet Lesara, stated in an interview with Inc. “We don’t just know which new styles are popular, we can also identify retro trends that are making comebacks, which styles are on the way out, and that helps us to precisely manage our production.”

Improving inventory management
In addition, data analytics can be paired with a responsive inventory management program. Retail-as-a-service solutions exist and can be used to track stock availability, shipping orders and in-store details. With this software, retail companies can get a real-time image of how well products and even entire locations are performing.

These solutions can prevent item shortages before they occur and give retail chains a greater understanding of performance at every location.

Using inventory management solutions can help retailers maximize their shipping profits. They can ship either directly to the customer or to the retail location most in need. Using inventory management solutions can help retailers maximize their shipping profits. They can ship directly to the customer or to the retail location most in need.

Concerning cybersecurity
Perhaps one of the factors slowing the adoption of cloud technology in the retail sector is cybersecurity. Retail organizations process multitudes of consumer credit information by the day, and the fallout from a data breach can be fatal in this sector. When faced with using cloud technology or in-house data center solutions, retail executives may believe that the safest hands are still their own.

However, this may not be the case. Research firm Gartner predicted that through 2022, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault, meaning that issues will not come from a software defect but through poor implementation. The firm also concluded that cloud structures will see as much as 60 percent fewer cyberattacks than those businesses with in-house servers.

Cloud infrastructure is secure but must be installed and operated properly. The only thing that retail agencies have to fear when it comes to this new solution is technological ignorance, but many cloud providers and third-party services stand ready to aid in the installation process.