What is Workstream Collaboration?

October 10, 2019

Don’t let outdated communication solutions hold your company back — workstream collaboration tools can enable efficiency and transform how you do business. 

Workplaces are constantly looking for ways to make their workforce more productive and more efficient. But as our digital environment changes and the real-time nature of work becomes more critical, collaboration styles must also change to maximize workforce productivity. According to Gartner, workstream collaboration is an emerging segment of the technology industry designed to improve team coordination, performance, and communications. But what is it really, and how will it change the way we work? 


The “Problem State” of Collaboration Today

For many organizations, one major problem is relying on outdated tools and habits. Employees may be utilizing too many platforms, or just falling back on using email when other options lack the capabilities they need. Document-based collaboration doesn’t allow for conversation, while instant messaging is ephemeral and not workflow-based. All too often, conversations stay fragmented, leading to less motivation and productivity, while key information gets lost or stays locked within silos.

Businesses need to remove barriers to true collaboration and put structures in place that improve situational awareness, enable coordination agility, and boost performance overall. Luckily, businesses are facing a rapidly changing and maturing market for collaboration tech. You now have more options than Slack and other messaging services — the workstream collaboration market helps take your workflow to the next level. 




Workstream Collaboration Defined

Workstream collaboration is all about enabling the awareness and integrative capabilities that allow people to work together successfully. Gartner defines a workstream collaboration tool as anything that delivers a “persistent conversational workspace for group collaboration and can be arranged into public or private channels.” 

Gartner goes on to predict that by the end of 2022, 70% of teams will rely on workstream collaboration as the primary means of communicating, coordinating, and sharing information between team members — displacing even email. To stay ahead of the competition, your organization now has the opportunity to be a leader in collaboration. But what exactly would that mean for your workflow? 

Essentially, effective workstream collaboration is built on specific core capabilities that offer businesses a range of benefits. Primary features of collaborative processes and tools include the following:


  • Persistent conversation: Collaboration should be based on an ongoing, shared conversation space, which exists as an integral “layer” of a workflow and includes direct and group messaging, plus activity streams. It shouldn’t be ephemeral — teams may need to be able to search and reference the information later. 
  • Integration with other tools: As part of the collaborative conversation, workers frequently will need to leverage data or functions housed in other apps and services. Collaborative processes can take into account data from business and legacy apps like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Marketo, Asana, ServiceNow, and many more. 
  • Actionable alerts and notifications: While an ongoing conversation is important, it’s also critical that teams have the ability to see and respond to urgent information in real-time. A system for alerts can help collaborative teams prioritize where their attention is needed most urgently, whether faced with customer support concerns or a life-threatening emergency.
  • Video and audio: Workstream collaboration can and should incorporate unified communications capabilities, especially functions like video and audio on top of text-based channels. 
  • Customization and feedback: Collaborative processes are highly specific to organizations, which is why flexibility is key. The best workstream collaboration tools will allow teams to further customize their collaborative processes based on user feedback, even once tools are already being used. 
  • Mobility and flexibility: It goes without saying that any collaboration tool in today’s digital world must be able to facilitate communications between remote team members, whether in different offices or on mobile devices.

With this list of capabilities as a guideline for tool requirements, teams are more likely to achieve successful workstream collaboration and experience an array of benefits. For instance, with better collaborative processes, employees won’t have to fall back on confusing email threads or function within previous silos. Everyone can finally work within a united space, rather than piecing together ad-hoc and disparate solutions. The right tools can bridge the gap between internal teams or even provide opportunities to synchronize with external partners. With a centralized channel, there’s less of a divide between talking about the work and taking the appropriate actionable steps to do the work.

In addition, workstream collaboration improves situational awareness — and increased process transparency means less lost information. Users gain a more contextual, real-time understanding of what’s currently happening, which ultimately improves outcomes. Overall, a more streamlined process creates more opportunities for success, reducing frustration and eliminating bottlenecks.


What Enterprises Can Gain from Workstream Collaboration 

For enterprises looking to invest in a workstream collaboration solution, now is the time. In this rapidly-developing market, workflow solutions are beginning to differentiate themselves — some are designed for specific use cases, others are purpose-built for customer needs. If collaboration is a key part of your process, there’s a solution for every scenario. The following are just a few examples of circumstances in which improving workstream collaboration is critical: 

  • Conversation-driven work: No more piecing together a conversation between email, Slack, phone calls, and video chats. Unified collaboration allows groups to stay on the same page and keep each other in the loop every step of the way, whether it’s an internal department working on a proposal or an international team delivering products to buyers. 
  • Dynamic, non-routine work: The rise of nonroutine workflows means that teams need to be able to converse to make decisions according to current circumstances. For instance, any crisis team responding to an incident has to act according to what’s presently happening, even if the situation changes rapidly. 
  • Cross-departmental work: Teams often need to cross business silos in order to share expertise and bring deliverables to completion. For instance, sales and marketing may need to stay on the same page about a particular rebranding initiative, or risk information gaps.
  • B2B collaboration: Collaborative processes aren’t just internal. An efficient process can be extended to business partners to benefit all parties. For example, partners up and down the supply chain need to be able to hand off goods seamlessly, which requires communication capabilities that other tools simply don’t have. 
  • Exception handling: When ad hoc teams are formed around handling emergencies, exceptions, and other special cases, it’s critical that collaborative processes are in place. Everything from a data breach to in-the-field disaster response can benefit from the collaborative capabilities that these pressing situations require. 
  • Rapid response: Whether due to on-the-ground circumstances or the real-time pressures of modern business, being able to respond quickly — and in a manner informed by the most up-to-date data — requires highly effective workstream collaboration.




Enabling Situational Awareness with the Right Tools

No matter your particular circumstances, workstream collaboration is likely to improve your operations and communications, leading to concrete benefits throughout the business. Rather than leave employees to piece together temporary solutions, implementing a real workstream collaboration tool is a chance to get everyone working together for success. But don’t be fooled by rehashed messaging apps — real workstream collaboration needs to be specific to your use case. 

Where in your process could better conversation lead to better outcomes? When is transparency or rapid response critical to managing a situation? Consider a platform that can be customized to how you do business — while improving your process at the same time. 

Your workstream collaboration tool should be flexible enough to be customized to workflows within your business, allowing you to organize collaboration streams around the key operations that drive your business forward. Specialized features like geospatial location information can provide an integrated way to implement asset tracking and other capabilities specific to your workflow. All in all, finding a purpose-built workstream collaboration tool can truly redefine your team’s communication methods around the specific work you do.