As repackaged consumer apps invade the enterprise, CIOs are turning to bespoke workstream collaboration tools to meet their specific needs.
Over the years, organizations have continually sought out new and better ways to collaborate and communicate. While email was a game-changer when it originally entered the workplace, it has done nothing to slow the eternal search for faster, more efficient teamwork. The siloed nature of email communication has given birth to a ream of communications platforms designed to put information in context and better facilitate interdepartmental collaboration.
While each of these solutions may effectively address one or two aspects of the workstream, none has established itself as a comprehensive “gold standard” solution. In other words, the search continues; teams still struggle to collaborate effectively across a number of different tools.
As a result of this struggle, a new market has emerged. As Gartner researchers noted in Embrace Workstream Collaboration to Transform Team Coordination and Performance, the unique demands of digital business have given birth to a new generation of workstream collaboration technologies. These solutions are designed to deliver tangible results by addressing specific use cases. The study suggests that before 2023, 70 percent of teams will rely on these types of tools rather than relying primarily on email. As CIOs look to invest in the next generation of workplace tools, these purpose-built, collaborative solutions represent the next step.
The Birth of Workstream Collaboration
Email’s limited capabilities have given rise to alternative solutions. Businesses have since tried collaborating through documents, chatting via instant messaging and web conferences, and adopting enterprise social networking tools. However, not all work activities are focused around documents, messaging tends to be ephemeral, and social networking tools are rarely focused on actual tasks. These tools have yet to serve as comprehensive solutions for the workplace. Instead, employees typically rely on using several tools at once, piecing together a workable process — but this tends to result in coordination gaps, duplicate work, and productivity losses.
Workplace collaboration tools ideally provide a way to cut through that clutter and bring siloed conversations into the proper channels by integrating conversations, tasks, content, and other workflow tools within one unified space. These are purpose-built tools that integrate with the workflow context and necessary applications that represent the actual flow of work — with a built-in conversation layer for informal, rapid-fire communication. In short, workstream collaboration tools combine the best of all the disparate systems before it. Companies that are used to relying on three or four different tools can finally switch to one tool: an enterprise-focused solution that genuinely meets their needs.
Choosing Purpose-Built Workplace Solutions
As Gartner notes, it’s crucial that businesses consider the high-impact use cases that call for the most collaboration and conversation. These new tools must be built with end-users in mind. Deploying a tool that’s too general won’t provide a solution for teams with specific needs, while a highly specialized tool will frustrate organizations addressing a multitude of different use cases.
To fulfill these needs and gaps in the market, CIOs have historically turned to messaging services that are essentially a repackaging of consumer tools. But to truly meet the needs of the enterprise, CIOs can no longer settle for repackaged consumer technology. The key for enterprises is to understand how their organic workflows might be reconstituted in a custom-built application.
It’s crucial that CIOs go beyond generic, general solutions by empowering their teams to collaborate with application vendors. In order to ensure that your workplace solutions are genuinely effective in integrating discussions and content with the necessary applications, Gartner analysts recommend “partnering with enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders to create a unified workstream strategy.” The vendor and the business work together to build a custom app onto a purpose-built backend — while actually taking end-user requirements and input into account. This process helps ensure that solutions are created for your specific needs, with tangible end results. CIOs can have the best of both tailor-made and pre-built applications by leveraging a backend built for situational awareness.
Workstream Collaboration for Situational Awareness
Workstream collaboration is better for the enterprise because it’s specifically designed with the modern workplace in mind. There are certain capabilities that teams tend to need — especially those who are looking to optimize for situational awareness. For situational awareness, workplace collaboration backends tend to be built for core functionalities, while leaving the door open for developers to include extended capabilities that reflect specific team needs.
- Communication: As teams are increasingly mobile and remote, communication is top of the list — built-in instant messaging and annotation options, along with real-time audio and video, are key to success.
- Visibility: Enhanced visibility is crucial. Intelligent alert systems, activity streams, and GIS environments can improve human insight into workflows. A common operational picture designed to dynamically surface contextually-appropriate information throughout the entire organization is the end goal.
- Interoperability: Interoperability can be important, especially if the new tool needs to be able to integrate with existing legacy tools. Important data may be contained within existing applications and workflow solutions must take this access into account.
- Process Support: And of course, every team will need specific support for processes and roles, depending on their activities and objectives. Situational awareness tools can use the above features, and more, to create a flexible yet organized workflow application that employees will actually want to use.
Getting Started With the Right Tools
There are many emerging tools in this market — which means CIOs have big decisions ahead of them. Consumer technology that wasn’t designed for the enterprise will not suffice for very long. What’s more, it’s no longer necessary to settle for tools that aren’t designed for your enterprise. CIOs can have the best of both tailor-made and pre-built applications by leveraging a backend built for situational awareness. That means it’s easier, faster, cheaper, and ultimately more effective to develop specific solutions on top of built-in capabilities. If you want to transform workstream collaboration in your enterprise, it’s time to forge a productive partnership. Coolfire’s cloud services can provide the customized experience you need, for any and all of your enterprise use cases.