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thinking strategically about collaboration

Start Thinking Strategically About Collaboration

Modern workers have to be able to come together, sharing information and communicating across departmental and geographical boundaries, in order to get things done. The key to bridging these boundaries is collaboration—the technology, workstyles and policies that enable your workforce to come together whenever and however they choose.

Collaboration is a strategic benefit to your organization that can deliver improved efficiency, effectiveness and productivity across all departments. It’s a competitive advantage, but only if you’re thinking about it properly.

Collaboration is not a tactic.

One of the biggest mistakes we see people make with their collaboration deployments is assuming it’s a “set it and forget it” type of software deployment—that simply providing the toolset will be enough for the ROI and productivity improvements to start rolling in.

Offering the technology, whether it’s web conferencing, team workspaces, mobile applications, etc., is the first step. However, “collaboration” is not simply a box to be checked. Collaboration is a cultural initiative. Technology is an integral part, but it’s just a part—the training resources, the remote work policies, the BYOD and other device policies that surround and enable collaboration are ultimately what will determine your new solution as a success or failure.

To put it in strategic parlance, it’s about seeing the big picture. Don’t take a narrow-minded view of collaboration as something you just throw over the wall.

Don’t be afraid to challenge and change existing mindsets.

A true strategic thinker is constantly challenging themselves to (pardon the cliché) think outside of the box and disrupt the status quo within themselves and their organization at large. But businesses, especially mid- to large-sized businesses, typically move quite slowly when it comes to change. Or, they are quite frankly just afraid of it.

A common example of this is in the collaboration space is maintaining old mindsets of purchasing and utilizing audio and web conferencing. Most people don’t need the web portion, you think—audio-only is sufficient for all but a select few. But changing delivery methods and evolving infrastructure have essentially brought the two on par in terms of cost, meaning that you’re leaving potentially invaluable added functionality and workflows on the table for your entire organization.

However, without the willingness to challenge your existing systems (coupled with careful research and insight into the changing collaboration industry), you’d have no way of knowing that you’re essentially hamstringing your workforce by relying on old thinking.

Be mindful of the road ahead.

As with any technology-driven initiative, collaboration is poised to change—and change quickly. Just as the mobile revolution has transformed how business today gets done, new devices, integrations, delivery methods and business models will reshape the future of collaboration in the workplace.

At PGi we believe this reshaping will take the form of a convergence of collaboration, where the barriers between different workstyles, communication types and methodologies will fade away empowering workers to come together whenever, wherever and however they choose. You won’t have to navigate a handful of different programs to try and find the information or person you need to get your job done; rather, you’ll live your day in a single unified collaboration platform where everything and everyone you need is a simple click or tap away.

Regardless of how the future of business collaboration takes shape, one of the most important aspects of thinking strategically is looking ahead to the future. Analyzing trends, creating roadmaps, projecting structural changes to your company—all of these will be vital to your continued growth and success.

In other words: will your organization be prepared to move as quickly as it needs in order to survive?

For more insights on the changing landscape of business collaboration, download our latest free eBook, “The Future of Business Collaboration 2015 Edition.”

About Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien is PGi’s Chief Administrative Officer. He oversees the company’s Legal, HR and Program Management organizations and manages Corporate Development, M&A and Acquisition Integration. In addition, Mr. O’Brien leads Corporate Strategy, Executive Communications and Global Facilities Management.

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