Innovative Services Boost Workplace Collaboration

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By: Fran Howarth|

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Today, using digital technology to foster workplace collaboration and enhance employee productivity is essential for innovation. It also caters to the needs of digital natives — namely, millennials — who will make up some 75 percent of the working population by 2025, according to Deloitte. Brought up in the digital age, this generation is constantly engaged in an online world, and increasingly, they’re influencing technology purchasing decisions at the organizations they work for.

Digital natives want to use devices and applications that they’re already familiar with and that deliver the workplace collaboration capabilities they require in a manner that suits their needs. This has led to the phenomenon of shadow IT, in which employees use devices and applications that are outside of the control of the IT department and often unsanctioned.

From Cloud Storage to Workplace Collaboration

The use of file-sharing services like Dropbox is a great example of shadow IT. Employees often use these services (originally aimed at consumers) for business purposes, without their organization’s knowledge. They upload files to the cloud for storage purposes or to share them with others. They can access those files from anywhere, on any device. Digital natives appreciate that kind of convenience.

But uncontrolled use of such services can be a security disaster, as users place sensitive information in the cloud without IT oversight. This has led Dropbox and similar services to tailor their offerings to the needs of organizations, releasing versions designed for business use that require greater control and higher levels of security, including role-based access.

The success of services like these has driven companies such as Slack and Yammer to create workplace collaboration apps that will be familiar and easy to use for younger, tech-savvy employees. Slack, for example, was originally a service that sent messages and files among users instantly — now, it’s been expanded to include collaborative features, including the ability to make voice calls and hold phone conferences for up to 15 people.

Facebook Workplace Unveiled

The most recent entrant to this space is Facebook, which unveiled its Workplace service in October 2016. Workplace mirrors the same Facebook experience that so many users are familiar with and adapts it for business use. Available for both desktop and mobile, the application features direct messaging, live video and audio calling, among other services.

Facebook is touting the new service as being useful for any employee, even those in occupations where they aren’t provided with desktop devices and applications. The company believes Workplace will enable wider digital collaboration among a greater variety of workers.

The Value of a Collaborative Culture

Services like Workplace can help not only to bring colleagues together but also to break down organizational silos and create collaborative cultures. Collaboration apps can connect everyone in the organization, from the CEO to an intern or the product marketing manager to a sales representative. Increased workplace collaboration can reveal opportunities to create new efficiencies, streamline operations and drive business growth.

That’s why new collaborative technologies should be relevant to any organization interested in enterprise mobility. With business applications that are as intuitive and easy to use as their favorite social media apps, employees will be less likely to engage in risky shadow IT practices, so CIOs can rest a little easier. And because these tools make the essential collaborative processes that businesses thrive on — messaging, file-sharing, conferencing, the list goes on — easier to execute, they can help teams across the enterprise reach peak productivity and effectiveness.

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About The Author

Fran Howarth

Freelance Writer

Fran Howarth is an industry analyst and writer specializing in cybersecurity. She has worked within the security technology sector for more than 25 years in an advisory capacity as an analyst, consultant and writer. Fran focuses on the business needs for security technologies, with a focus on emerging technology sectors. Current areas of focus include cloud security, data security, identity and access management, network and endpoint security, security intelligence and analytics and security governance and regulations. Fran can be reached at fhowarth@gmail.com.

Articles by Fran Howarth
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