Modern Collaboration, Collaboration Transformation, Technology Revolution, Technology Transformation; I’m sure you have heard one or more of these terms before. They are very common to talk about in Enterprise IT, even Microsoft’s marketing hits on the Modern Collaboration term quite heavily with their cloud offerings.
You are probably wondering, what does this all mean? How does it affect my business, and how do I get started!? Modern Collaboration is a term that Microsoft has coined for its cloud-first products to drive productivity for knowledge workers. The focus is to shift production from a workplace to a workspace.
The key here is a workplace is somewhere you have to go to an office building or a coworking space to do work. A workspace is anywhere you can get the job done. A workspace could be your favorite coffee shop, home office, an office building, or a coworking space. The purpose of a workspace is your tools to be productive are available to you anytime, anywhere you need them.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the subtle difference between workplace and workspace, let’s talk about how it impacts business.
For a business to provide a proper workspace to its employees, they need to have their data and tools available anytime, anywhere. Anytime, anywhere are the most significant benefits of moving to cloud platforms. It is 100% possible to make your infrastructure highly available and accessible from anywhere. However, it requires a significant investment compared to using cloud products, and not many businesses can justify the ROI, simply because it isn’t there unless you are a large enterprise.
By shifting to the cloud, you will gain a lot of benefits; however, you are also giving up specific controls. Controls that surround when maintenance happens on the product, and it’s unavailable, controls around when to roll out the new version that renames certain features or entire products. In some instances, you will also find that when you compare a cloud product to an on-premises product, you have significantly fewer options on customization or settings that you can adjust.
Now, you may be wondering what the benefit of shifting to Modern Collaboration is? Let’s consider recent events. COVID-19 hits, within weeks of it hitting the US, it escalates from an epidemic to pandemic levels. The US Government starts shutting down the border, and States start issuing travel warnings demanding only essential travel. Businesses can no longer have people in the office. The question is, can your office employees do their job if they cannot all be in the same building?
Great news, you had the foresight for your office employees to have Laptops, with docks and monitors. They can undock and go work from home, right? It is highly unlikely your office employees can be productive out of the office for several reasons. Let’s focus on their collaboration with co-workers. How common is it for you to walk next door to your co-worker to revise a document, ask questions or honestly; socialize to take a mental break?
In the middle of a pandemic, that is not an option. You start working on a document to send to the entire team. You ask for feedback, something you usually have a 15-30 minute meeting on with your team, get the teams thoughts, make revisions, and then email out. However, you can’t do the meeting, and you jump straight into sending an email to the team. You get five responses back, all with different thoughts, and you have to compile it into one document to send again. The one document that you thought would take 30 minutes to revise and finalize has snowballed into an entire day, emailing back and forth with the whole team. It didn’t just stop your day. It disrupted half of your team too!
Now, let’s take that same scenario and think about Modern Collaboration. You have Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Office. All accessible from the cloud, available anytime, anywhere. You created the document, you open Microsoft Teams and posted a conversation about the file in your Team. You have a couple of people open the document. Some of them even on mobile devices adding comments about revisions they want to be made. There is some contention on proposed changes, so you set up a quick call in Microsoft Teams. The call wraps up in 10 minutes, you make the final revisions and let the team know the document is final and saved in Microsoft Teams.
You can easily trim a full day of back and forth emailed revisions into a single live document that can be updated discussed and finalized much quicker. The beauty of it, it automatically saves changes the entire time. If someone accidentally deleted a paragraph they didn’t mean to, it is easy to find that revision, revert it, or copy and paste the content from the old revision!
Using cloud-based tools, makes it easy to shoot quick questions over an instant message instead of sending five different emails and getting buried in someone’s inbox. The benefit of this is it encourages quick conversation instead of formal email messages. The side-effect of this turns into relationship building among your employees. It helps drive a social culture that gives your employees the ability to decompress mentally over a quick conversation with a co-worker, instead of reaching burn out levels from being stuck at home, working all day and not getting much social interaction.
What is best for your business is ultimately a reasonably significant conversation, and there are plenty of things to consider. Personally, I love cloud technologies and Modern Collaboration. I’ve been working from home 100% for four months, and initially, it was challenging; however, I truly believe if a business wants to be productive anytime, anywhere, it can be done! Keep an eye out for new blog posts about how to use some of the Microsoft Cloud to drive this Modern Collaboration adoption, or reach out to me and I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about it!