What’s next for business collaboration? Six trends emerging in 2014

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Author’s Note:This blog post was a contribution from our partner MindLink. Visit MindLink to learn more about how to better leverage collaboration technologies.

Collaboration in the workplace has come a long way in 2013. No longer seen as “Facebook for the enterprise,” organisations now recognise the potential social technology brings to employees, and in turn, business performance & productivity. Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2016, 50 percent of large organisations will have internal Facebook-like collaborative networks, and 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.

Next Big Thing

Reflecting this evolution and maturity, 2014 will be the year when team collaboration comes into its own as organisations seek to unlock the untapped knowledge held within its ranks and email inboxes.

With that in mind, here are six important trends we predict coming to life in 2014:

1.  March of the millennials 

A growing number of “millennial” employees (born between 1980 and 1990) are now entering the workplace. With collaborative technology being second nature to this generation of workers, organisations are having to cope with them creating their own social networks and other forms of collaboration if they don’t already exist or are provided for them. This can, from a practical and compliance point of view, create serious headaches for IT and security managers as these self-created, informal forums can become difficult to monitor and manage.

To address this, companies will take a more proactive and hands-on approach in 2014 toward creating and owning collaboration networks. Not only will this ensure compliance regulations are adhered to, but it will bring the benefits of collaboration to the wider organisation, not just a few socially-savvy individuals.

2.  It’s  a strategy, not an initiative

Collaboration will no longer be seen as the latest ‘must-have’ technology. Instead, heads of collaboration are taking in-depth looks at how their businesses currently operate and how improved collaboration can help teams work to meet business goals and objectives.

To ensure optimum success, 2014 will see more collaboration programmes rolled out including continual feedback cycles and integration with cultural change agents and project champions to ensure usage remains high to achieve return on investment. It combines the right technology with the cultural change needed.

3.  Mobile matters 

Tablet shipments will continue to rocket (Gartner agrees with us!) and the growth and demand for these devices will further enable employees to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access it from a different portfolio of products.

Accessing information on the move will become particularly important for workers who are typically only grabbing a couple of minutes in between meetings to view messages. As such, we’ll see them focusing more on business critical discussions without the distraction of less time-sensitive information held within emails.

From a mobile perspective, there will be further uptake of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) approach across organisations and 2014 will see more cross-platform integration, including natively-written applications that function as add-ons to core platforms.

4.  Integrate, Integrate, Integrate

It’s not just in the mobile space where we’ll see more cross-system integration. Thanks to a greater focus on strategic business direction, 2014 will see collaboration embedded into existing business processes and structured systems such as content management, CRM, ERP and external social news sources.

Incorporating a collaborative element to existing business tools with which employees are already familiar with ensures that the knowledge of the crowd can be harnessed in the right context at the right time.

Achieving this integration isn’t without its challenges due to the scale and complexity of creating the necessary Application Programming Interface (API)s needed to connect the hundreds or indeed thousands of systems and processes together. As we enter a new era of collaboration, there’ll be easier and more powerful methods to get data in and out of collaboration tools, creating a richer experience for employees.

5.  Offer a great user experience and people will ‘use’ it

Employees now expect workplace technology to be comparable to that used in their personal lives. So, in order to be fully-beneficial, collaborative tools need to reflect the same ease of use employees are familiar with in order to encourage participation, for example, the use of @mentioned or #hastags which originated in Twitter, but which are now extending into other applications. This ease of use will also be reflected in the ability to offer employees a choice of preferred collaboration platform – whether it’s iOS, Android or Blackberry.

6.  Become more vocal 

Extending the choice of platform and device concept for collaboration further, 2014 will bring greater integration of voice technology into the collaborative process. Now voice technology is nothing new, but integrating it into collaboration tools means that the conversation can be recalled and accessed in the same way as the written word.

2014 is going to be exciting, I’d dare say it will be the year of business critical collaboration!

We’ve reached a turning point in how organisations will foster more collaborative teams to the workplace. By taking a more proactive and strategic approach, will we see collaborative tools tailored to reflect the specific needs of individuals, teams and the business – increasing productivity and ensuring that all three are united in driving the company forward.

Please leave comments below or continue the conversation on @BlackBerry4Biz 

About Maria Stockham

Maria Stockham is a Senior Enterprise Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry focused on unified communications and collaboration and responsible for marketing enterprise applications (corporate and 3rd party including iOS and Android apps securely wrapped for deployment in Secure Work Space). Maria is a full time telecommuter based in Minneapolis, Minn. She understands how technology can enable the successful proliferation of virtual, global teams as well as the productivity and collaboration benefits it can provide. Her software industry experience spans over 10 years in digital imaging and telecommunications verticals. With a degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, Maria has held various positions in Product Management as well as Product, Program and Channel Marketing.

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