How connected are your teams?

by Alex Bennett

29 May 2019

People sitting at their desks working on computers

Creating a culture of collaboration drives growth and improves customer experience

Collaboration has emerged, over the past few years, as one of the core technologies in allowing organizations to embrace digital transformation.

More than any other single advance, the ability for companies to connect disparate teams wherever they are in the world has opened the door to massive productivity increases.

Today it’s possible for employees to operate seamlessly as a team, with full access to all the organizations systems and resources, just as easily from an airport lounge as from their chosen workplace or office.

The initial driver for the adoption of these technologies was the demand from users, looking to bring their own devices into the workplace. Organizations are recognizing that investment in the employee experience will deliver enhanced customer experience. By ensuring they optimize the workplace, they will ultimately drive not only increased revenue growth, but can also see a positive impact on metrics such the Net Promoter (NPS) Score. Freeing users to work in the way that best suits them increases their ability to innovate and create value for the organization. Evidence indicates that companies that embrace innovation are more likely to be successful and collaboration is one of the cornerstones of an innovative culture.

The proliferation of devices and applications in the workplace presents additional security concerns that can’t (and mustn’t) be ignored. It’s difficult for IT teams to ensure that all applications being accessed by the employee deliver the appropriate level of security – especially when these applications are not integrated into the existing systems. This is even more important when issues around regulatory compliance are thrown into the mix. More and more organizations are looking to information rights management to ensure that access to information is granted based on the individual roles of the users, ensuring that only appropriate people have access to specific information.

As the business starts using more applications to enable new business processes and drive efficiencies, the challenge of integrating legacy and disparate unified collaboration systems and ensuring that the data is shared effortlessly between the systems needs to become a key focus. Failing to integrate the systems results in silos of information being formed, which ultimately impacts the organizations ability to make co-coordinated responses to market fluctuations, which will eventually negatively impact the success, and profits of the organization.

A potential example of the danger of silos of information being created is when teams are using multiple cloud storage solutions to share information, or multiple project management tools. While they work well in isolation, when those teams need to work together on a project the efficiency of collaboration is reduced, because time is being spent working around the integration of the systems, and the sharing of content, rather than on delivering the desired outcome.

A man sitting on wooden stairs while on his phone

Organizations need to be increasingly aware that they don’t operate in isolation. Not only are they reliant on their employees to remain collaboratively connected in order to boost productivity and ultimately profits (and brand – but that’s another conversation) but their ability to seamlessly collaborate with suppliers and partners are as pivotal to their success. The goods and services they receive from value chain partners form part of a circular economy ensuring their long-term sustainability. It’s in your best interest to ensure you can continue to collaborate with such external parties in a frictionless manner. Call it a regenerative approach – something that has society wide benefits as well as bottom line impact. Rethink your linear model; reusing resources is cost effective (i.e. a buy back model) – an action which will benefit your production price, your sales price, subsequently your customer satisfaction – and then the additional advantage of the positive social and environmental impact.

The challenge for IT organizations remains that it’s difficult to find all the skills in-house to support this multivendor environment that is presented both internally and externally to the organization. It becomes essential to find a partner who has the ability to facilitate and manage the integration of systems from multiple vendors.

It’s this level of integration and synergy along with tighter links between IT, line of business and HR that are required to unlock the true potential of the digital workplace, and ensure the delivery of higher order value to the organization.

You need to:

  • Realize that digital is an organization-wide affair and that means that organizations need to consider every aspect of their business, starting with the people. These considerations include processes, structures, technology and the overall integrated system.
  • Talk to IT. Understand how disparate your platforms and applications are. Collaboration between the business and IT is the most fundamental of steps.
  • Focus on an inclusive culture, include everyone’s ideas. This will truly encourage innovation – and solutions to real problems as identified by your customers. And yes – include your customers’ feedback in these sessions.

Read more about the changing digital landscape and where your peers are in the process in the NTT’s Digital Means Business Benchmarking Report. 

Alex Bennett

Alex Bennett

Group SVP Go-to-market: Customer Experience & Digital Workplace, NTT Ltd.