Competition is always one thing in business—it’s everywhere you look. And it wasn’t all that long ago that IT companies all had their privately held, proprietary secret-sauce code and development processes that helped them put their stakes in the ground.
This is still true to an extent; regulated industries (financial services, oil and gas exploration, military, health care are chief examples) still are a bastion of closely held products, services and processes. This is to be expected.
However, as more and more companies in various other verticals discover the benefits of collaborating with each other, much of the corporate world is starting to look more like a big bunch of BFFs, hanging out together and innovating in an effort to attract their own pieces of the market.
When Collaboration Works, It Really Works
When it works, collaboration between companies can lead to product innovation due to the pooling of talented personnel and greater marketing outreach due to the sharing of databases. The open source community in all its vestiges has proved this for generations.
When collaboration fails, however, one company can be left to do all the graft, or in-fighting can occur due to conflicts in working styles and processes.
So how does one ensure that an enterprise collaboration actually works? Getting set up with the right collaborative technology will set you off in the right direction.
Using industry information from Natalie Harris-Briggs, Vice-President of Marketing at Avocor, an interactive hardware maker, eWEEK offers this Data Point round-up of the latest business tech and ideas that can be used to support collaboration between companies.
Data Point 1: Huddle rooms
Huddle rooms aren’t exactly new, but they’re the bedrock on which to base the rest of your collaborative technology. If you’ve never heard of huddle rooms before, they’re in-office spaces – either open plan or self-contained – that exist for the purpose of facilitating quick collaborations. They differ from conference and board rooms in the fact that they don’t have to be booked out in advance, and both warm bodied and remote colleagues can get together in the space to debate, discuss and problem solve at a moment’s notice.
Data Point 2: Cloud video conferencing
Conferencing has come a long way since the time when teams of people would sit around a physical piece of dial-in hardware on a conference table and strain to hear what was being said and who was saying it. Today, cloud-based video conferencing apps like Zoom make it possible for employees to meet with and see colleagues from all over the world, in high definition. These solutions also offer functionality that makes everyone’s lives easier – like an instant zoom-in on the person who’s talking when they take over the conversation.
Date Point 3: Interactive displays
When you’re collaborating with both remote and physical workers on a project, whiteboards no longer cut the mustard. You need a solution to displaying information and ideas that’s much more fluid and interactive. This is where interactive displays come in. You can load designs and graphs onto a screen and manipulate them in real time as meeting or huddle members make comments and give feedback. It all makes for quicker decision making.
Date Point 4: Embedded collaboration technology
Hundreds upon hundreds of apps have now been designed to help businesses work collaboratively together. However, many of these apps are used in silos. Many employees will have to leave their collaborative messaging app to access their collaborative calendar app, for example. The future is an embedded solution that lets you do all your collaborative work in one place. This technology is only really emerging with companies such as Moxtra offering solutions that let you message, collaborate on documents and video conference without switching between apps.
Data Point 5: Virtual reality
Today’s cloud-based video conference systems are powerful, but if you feel like they still don’t get you closer to your virtual colleagues, it won’t be long before you can have meetings in virtual spaces. Companies like MeetinVR are developing technology that will allow you to stand side by side with your physically absent colleagues, as well as let you show them around spaces and pass them virtual designs and ideas by your virtual hands.
Data Point 6: Smart virtual personal assistants
Today, smart virtual personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are common features of homes around the world. SVPAs can also come in handy inside businesses, too. They can be used to take minute meetings, scan emails for important information, and schedule meetings, freeing up physical workers to concentrate on the bigger pictures rather than the admin.
Data Point 7: Machine- learning
Artificial Intelligence aka AI can help businesses with different sets of employees to map skills, leverage those skills, and automatically connect colleagues with similar areas of interest or expertise. AI-powered search engines like Collokia can also tap into the collective intelligence of two businesses working together and help employees access that intelligence quickly.
Data Point 8: Ambient Intelligence
Most ambient intelligent technologies are in the beta phase of design. However, it won’t be long before we see this technology emerging into the market. Ambient intelligence will be able to do things like build behaviour profiles of employees based on the way they act and speak in different areas of the workplace. AML will then be able to offer advice on best practices for how to deliver information or communicate with each employee – helpful if you don’t know all the employees in the business with whom you’ll be collaborating.