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Executive Viewpoint 2016 Prediction: Incentive – Six Trends Transforming Enterprise Collaboration

Traditionally, collaboration involved long in-person meetings or conference calls that seemed to hinder productivity rather than boost it. The increasingly rapid pace of business today and dispersed workforces mean organizations need a better way to communicate and work together.

Enterprise collaboration technologies have been helping transform the workplace for a while now. But solutions that focus on just one specific feature, such as instant chat or file sharing, are no longer enough to support teams that have to work together effectively.

Recently, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director at 451 Research, said: “Rather than feature-focused solutions, the business applications market is slowly but surely moving toward fully integrated solutions that encompass all the tools workers need to collaborate.”

With workplace collaboration evolving yet again, there will be several trends businesses will need to watch out for in 2016.

1.  Data will become Increasingly Integrated

The fast pace of business today means employees don’t have time to check multiple programs or inboxes to find the information or files they need to get their work done. Having data in multiple, disparate systems is time consuming and creates cluttered workflows. According to Netskope, the average business uses 27 different accounting apps and 41 different human resources apps.

Teams and individual employees are experiencing platform fatigue, as they are being forced to manage multiple logins, processes and searches across so many different platforms, which leads to misplaced data, wasted time and lost productivity.

Enterprises will start integrating all of these disparate systems into one centralized location to make the most out of the company’s data and intellectual property.

2.  Single-feature Solutions will Shift to All-in-one Platforms

Most collaboration solutions today focus on one or two features – whether that’s document collaboration, video messaging, blogging or anything else.

In 2016, enterprises will be looking for a single platform that combines all of the collaboration features they need to increase productivity and work together efficiently. Features such as wikis, blogs, document collaboration, file sharing, instant messaging, video conversations, social UX and others co-existing in one centralized platform makes it easy for employees to truly collaborate.

3.  Remote Collaboration will be Key

We’re seeing a shift toward distributed workforces, as technology enables us to work anywhere, any time and on any device. In fact, regular work-from-home has grown by 103 percent since 2005 and 6.5 percent in 2014.

Because of this shift, businesses will have to ensure they’re providing their employees all the tools they need to stay connected no matter where they are. Video conferencing will increasingly replace in-person meetings, and document collaboration will be key in enabling employees to work together remotely or on-the-go.

4.  Real-time Communication will Replace Email

Not completely, but 2016 will see a shift away from email as the primary means of communication between colleagues and team members.

In most workplaces today, you’ll likely find some form of instant messaging platform. Email is no longer the preferred method of communication, because of lag time in getting a quick response.

By bringing everyone together instantly, you can get everyone on the same page, reduce the need for time-consuming meetings or back-and-forth emailing, and enhance productivity.

5.  Knowledge Sharing and Cross-team Collaboration will be Encouraged

While some businesses are already taking a cross-team approach, there are still many that retain their traditional working structure where different teams are siloed. But as work becomes more complicated, reaching that next level of success requires a new approach.

Gone are the days of working individually and in silos. Businesses will have to encourage teamwork and collaboration in order to take advantage of the collective braintrust of their employees. In fact, research finds six competitive advantages of cross-functional teams: speed, complexity, customer focus, creativity, organizational learning, and a single point of contact for information and decisions about a project or customer.

6.  Social UX is the Way of the Future

Back in the day, the needs of the business took precedence over the needs of employees. But as social media has evolved, leveraging big data and machine learning, employees have come to expect the same tools and technologies in the workplace.

Interfaces have become simpler, less cluttered. Data is flexible and available in real-time. Social networks suggest topics, people or brands you might be interested in. They take into account personal preferences. The end user becomes the lead character, not the business.

A social user experience focuses on the employees – making it easier for them to do their jobs.

If businesses can address these trends and truly transform the traditional work environment, they will see greater communication and collaboration among their employees, as they get more work done together.