"> collaboration Archives - Engr Kabir Saleh

Posts Tagged

collaboration

How to avoid collaboration burnout

Collaboration tools are pervasive in the enterprise, but less so are practices for smartly managing the flow of information created in them, according to researchers and tech leaders who find these tools often lead to overload and burnout.

Anyone adding a new workplace chat app, for instance, could pick from dozens of options, and that’s part of the problem. They’re powerful tools for working across teams, time zones and distance. But the volume and velocity of the demands created, and the diversity of channels employees are expected to constantly monitor are wearing people out, said Rob Cross, a professor of global leadership at Babson College. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

“Collaborative overload feels good right up until it doesn’t, Cross said. “You’re the king of the world. These drivers that you have personally taken on – accomplishment or status or helping – are being met right up until burnout. And then it’s really hard to get out because of the demands you put on yourself.”

Cross says he has interviewed dozens of successful business leaders who often say they’re stretched too thin across multiple apps for chat, email and meetings. 

“You’re hearing stories that they’re overwhelmed,” Cross said. “They’re managing across nine of these platforms: Slack or Teams channels, IM, video, work management systems, gratitude recognition systems.”

[ Related: How to combine project management and collaboration ]

Cross said the problem is especially noticeable in high-performing managers.  

“These may ultimately be great tools, but all these technologies that are presumably making things faster are not really doing that,” Cross said. “Especially for managers who are all in on their careers, where people are counting on them. Nobody’s addressing the tax that’s being placed on people. There’s no chief collaborative overload officer. It always falls to the individual to figure it out, ‘How do I create some semblance of work and life?’”

“Collaboration app fatigue is real,” says Sébastien Ricard, CEO at LumApps. “It’s no

 

Collaboration tools are pervasive in the enterprise, but less so are practices for smartly managing the flow of information created in them, according to researchers and tech leaders who find these tools often lead to overload and burnout.

Anyone adding a new workplace chat app, for instance, could pick from dozens of options, and that’s part of the problem. They’re powerful tools for working across teams, time zones and distance. But the volume and velocity of the demands created, and the diversity of channels employees are expected to constantly monitor are wearing people out, said Rob Cross, a professor of global leadership at Babson College. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

“Collaborative overload feels good right up until it doesn’t, Cross said. “You’re the king of the world. These drivers that you have personally taken on – accomplishment or status or helping – are being met right up until burnout. And then it’s really hard to get out because of the demands you put on yourself.”

Cross says he has interviewed dozens of successful business leaders who often say they’re stretched too thin across multiple apps for chat, email and meetings. 

“You’re hearing stories that they’re overwhelmed,” Cross said. “They’re managing across nine of these platforms: Slack or Teams channels, IM, video, work management systems, gratitude recognition systems.”

[ Related: How to combine project management and collaboration ]

Cross said the problem is especially noticeable in high-performing managers.  

“These may ultimately be great tools, but all these technologies that are presumably making things faster are not really doing that,” Cross said. “Especially for managers who are all in on their careers, where people are counting on them. Nobody’s addressing the tax that’s being placed on people. There’s no chief collaborative overload officer. It always falls to the individual to figure it out, ‘How do I create some semblance of work and life?’”

“Collaboration app fatigue is real,” says Sébastien Ricard, CEO at LumApps. “It’s no surprise that more choice leads to higher levels of stress. This has been studied by consumer behavior specialists. It’s no different in the workplace. Employees today are more reachable than ever, which sets expectations that they have to respond to every communication right away.”

Tim Mulron, CEO at Teaming, said he sees an over reliance on collaboration tools that’s sometimes coupled with a lack of direction. 

“Ensuring that the mission of the team is clear, that the priorities are understood and we have agreement on how we operate eliminates a lot of unnecessary asynchronous communication,” Mulron said. “While it’s important that colleagues feel free to share, maintaining safe spaces is key to facilitating team engagement and team performance. Virtual collaboration tools should be used in moderation, like everything else. Just because you can message a colleague at 4 a.m., it doesn’t mean you should.”

[ Related: 4 tips for picking the right collaboration suite  ]

Cross’ research found that collaboration takes up about 85 percent of a manager’s time, about twice what was required in the previous decade. He says another issue that exacerbates the problem is an increasing interdependence between teams of all kinds.

“Throw in time zones and globalization, that’s a big deal in terms of the way in which we have to collaborate more globally,” Cross said. “The interdependence of work has gone up as well, the complexity of what people are producing, whether it’s a car, drug, a consulting project or a financial transaction. There are more and more specialties that have to collaborate to produce these products. It’s really a whole slew of these things that’s not going away.”

Mike Hicks, vice president of marketing and strategy at Igloo Software, said he sees overloaded employees and leadership teams, who are either missing important messages or getting more than they can be expected to handle. “Neither scenario is ideal,” Hicks says, “and it leads to low employee engagement, and decreased productivity, which are both keys signs of virtual collaboration burnout.”

Signs of collaboration burnout

One likely indicator of overload is when collaboration and consensus are tied at the hip, and paralyze the decision-making process. “It’s great that collaboration tools give a voice to everyone, but someone still needs to decide when enough dialogue is enough,” Mulron said. ”Collaboration tools are only as good as the teams who use them and the norms they’ve defined about getting work done and how they make decisions. Productivity is a trailing indicator of good business decisions – decisions being the operative word.”

Cross worries that collaboration burnout can be hard to spot because it builds over time rather than, as some might expect, in a series of surges.

“Over months or years, people just work a little harder,” Cross says, “a little deeper into the night and they eventually hit a threshold where they can’t keep up. They start to stress. Their creativity goes down and their negative reactions go up. You see people not fully engaged in meetings and you have to wonder how much coordination is actually happening, when you see them racing in and out of things and not executing. It can be a big deal.”

Some organizations are attempting to bring agile practices to address the problem. But Cross said they often find that the actual bottleneck in productivity occurs not from the tools themselves, but where a handful of connected employees are handling a disproportionate number of demands. And that still occurs after creating new workstreams. “You end up taking people out of existing workstreams and then putting them somewhere else,” he said. “But their old connections keep coming to them – they still have to get answers to keep things going. It creates significant overload in the system around some of your best players. How do you systematically shift those demands? What we find is that it’s much more about managing yourself than it is about the technology.”

Solutions to avoid burnout

Cross said most organizations aren’t taking stock of the types of demands being put on workers through collaboration tools and no one is tracking the amount of time spent using them. 

“The really important thing is that it’s invisible as across organizations,” he said, “and until we get better at kind of seeing, OK, if we adapt Slack or Teams or Cisco’s product or whatever, what’s the actual impact on that pattern of connectivity and is it driving the results we want? Or is it having unintended consequences?”

The most effective collaborators Cross speaks with apply time management techniques that fit their work style to keep from being constantly distracted by collaboration. “Technology can help a little bit, but it’s not a technical issue. It’s more of a cultural and work management solution.”

Some people get email out of the way first thing in the morning, he says, while others focus on reflective work first then block out 30-minute segments for email. They’ll accept meeting invites but insist on a hard stop at half an hour rather than an hour. And they make sure meetings are focused, with agendas circulated beforehand and an email after to recap and establish next steps. 

“They proactively shape their roles,” Cross said, “so that they don’t have people kind of continually pushing them back into collaborative demand.”



Source link

The case for (and against) maintaining multiple collaboration tools

An age-old debate in IT — whether to opt for “best-of-breed” software or settle on a universal platform — is surfacing in the world of collaboration technology.

IT professionals are predominantly inclined to favor consolidating around a single app or suite over supporting multiple tools because it’s easier to deploy, manage and ensure a secure work environment, says Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research. But there’s a strong case to be made for letting workers use the best tool for the job — and that may mean something different for a marketing team than for a group of developers.

“We have seen a noticeable shift in the last few years in terms of ownership, meaning employees are feeling more empowered and are more vocal and proactive regarding the tools they use for work,” Castañón-Martínez says. That dynamic leads some organizations to support multiple apps for the same purpose, such as allowing both Slack and Microsoft Teams for group chat. This creates overlap and extra challenges for IT.

There are genuine and consistently proven benefits for enterprises to adopt an all-in-one approach, but rigidity isn’t always the best strategy for today’s workforce. Balancing the wants of users with company-wide considerations around security, productivity, and the omnipresent need to capture and generate value from internal data requires an open mind with a touch of empathy.

Benefits of flexibility



Source link

EEA opens sandbox for blockchain development and collaboration

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) today launched a development sandbox that enables member companies to test and certify their blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) projects.

The standards organization that oversees the Ethereum blockchain platform partnered with enterprise testing and development service provider Whiteblock to create the sandbox for the EEA members.

In addition to working with internal projects, EEA members can also use the TestNet to collaborate with partner companies on developing blockchain applications that can pass data back and forth, according DiMarzio

“One of the main objectives of the EEA is to provide interoperability in this marketplace to ensure products coming out on Ethereum work together. When you’re working together in the same test environment you’re going to make sure that’s happening – something you can’t do if you’re working alone,” said EEA Community Director Paul DiMarzio.

The EEA has more than 200 members, including Intel, Microsoft, FedEx, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.. JP Morgan Chase, Banco Santander, Citigroup and the John Hancock Life Insurance.

“We’ve got both IT providers and IT users in it – both companies making the technologies and the consumers of technology. We’ve got big guys and little guys,” DiMarzio said.

For example, JP Morgan Chase initially built its cryptocurrency JPM Coin on top of the Quorum blockchain platform, which is based on Ethereum; the EEA’s Quorum development team is participating in the Testing Working Group that developed the new testnet. There are 20 member companies that are part of the EEA TestNet and Certification Working Group.

An EEA certification program is planned for end of 2020.

“We are planning to test various scenarios that we are currently identifying. Some scenarios include public transactions, private transactions, permissioning, block validation, and the IBFT consensus mechanism,” said Dan Heyman, co-founder and director at blockchain company and EEA member PegaSys. Heyman was referring to the Istanbul Byzantine Fault Tolerant mechanism.

PagaSys developed a version of Ethereum that includes Hyperledger Besu, an open-source Java-based client. PegaSys plans to launch Hyperledger Besu in the  “upcoming weeks.” 

Their use of the TestNet demonstrates future opportunities for enterprise use cases, Heyman said. “We believe the EEA TestNet is a good starting point towards a certification and validating how current clients meet the EEA specification,” he said.

Research has shown testbeds are necessary for partnerships to thrive between governments hammering out new regulations and the businesses hoping to use blockchain. Testbeds help regulators better understand blockchain’s cybersecurity benefits and risks and offer a deeper understanding of the technology.

With that in mind, heavily regulated industries such as FinTech, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing can help develop a government’s understanding of blockchain through dialogue and the creation of joint regulatory sandboxes.

One of the distinctions between other industry sandboxes and the EEA’s TestNet is there’s no central coordination or management of the latter. The managing infrastructure is completely automated by Whiteblock’s Genesis, a blockchain, Web3 and distributed systems test/dev platform that alleviates overhead, according to Whiteblock CEO Zak Cole, who is also chair of the EEA Testing and Certification Working Group.

Each node on the EEA TestNet exists within its own logical environment (whitebox) and has its own IP address. The nodes communicate with others over a WAN. Links between nodes can also be manipulated to simulate packet loss, latency or bandwidth constraints to see how the network would operate upscaled within a controlled environment.

The software enables the automation of transactions over the network to measure throughput and enable the use of smart contracts.

“So, load testing, security tests, fault tolerance. You just get this private network of your own that allows you to do what you need to do and it’s all automated,” Cole said.

To participate in the testnet, EEA members don’t need to run their own servers (nodes), and instead can utilize distributed web application extensions, such as MetaMask, or any endpoint the EEA provides that allows users to run distributed apps (dApps) on their browser without running a full Ethereum node.

Since it’s a controlled testnet and the EEA can observe every node in the network, the standards group can gather deep insights into the results of any test, Cole said.

“So defining what the test criteria is going be, automating that entire process, sucking out all that data, aggregating it and then analyzing it is all going to be taken care of,” Cole said. “So, it’s much more than just a testnet; it’s kind of like a managed service.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



Source link

Making the connection: The role of collaboration apps in digital transformation

Whether it’s retailers plying wares online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores, media companies swapping print for pixels or companies looking to empower frontline workers, one theme is increasingly common in business: digital platforms are now fundamental to success — and that success depends on employees who can collaborate in real time, at any time and from anywhere.

With widely distributed employees and and a more mobile workforce, many companies have had to shift gears quickly in recent years to stay competitive. Critical to that effort is the ability to share information and ideas effectively using the latest communication and collaboration tools. The rise of real-time messaging apps like Slack, videoconferencing apps like Skype for Business and online file-sharing apps like Dropbox has given companies a host of tools they can use to underpin corporate growth and connectivity.

In particular, the growing adoption of team-based collaboration software and revamped business processes has helped organizations become more agile.

“Companies that utilize team collaboration applications report having significantly increased group and personal productivity, have faster time to market, and execute projects [faster],” said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC.

But getting employees to all row in the same direction — and even use the same software to do so — isn’t easy. Corporate execs, fully aware of the importance of modern digital tools to support their workforce, find themselves playing catch-up to match the apps and devices their employees rely on outside the office.

Better connectivity means smarter, more engaged workers

“Consumers now expect one click to buy, two clicks to return. And when those consumers go to work, they expect that same ease of collaboration, communication, and getting things done that they enjoy when they’re at home and working in their communities or their families,” said Kurtzman. 

A report from Deloitte showed that almost 80% of corporate execs rate employee experience as important, but only 22% called their companies “excellent” at creating a productive environment for workers.

That gap indicates where companies are increasingly putting their efforts as they scour the digital landscape for the right tools to keep employees productive — and happy.

Doing so is critical to both attracting and retaining workers. “After all, why should they be able to collaborate more easily at home or for their children’s football clubs than they can at work?” asked Kurtzman. “It makes sense to have the same depth of communication, collaboration and the ability to get things done that they enjoy outside of the workplace.”

The digital experience for workers should match that of customers, Jeffrey Mann, a VP analyst at Gartner, said in a recent research note.

“…All too often, the employee experience is an afterthought for business and application leaders,” wrote Mann. “They ignore the relevance to workers of the proven lessons from marketing and customer relationship management regarding the customer experience. Many of the same techniques used to create happy customers can be applied to encourage productive employees.”

At Valet Living, a residential concierge and amenities service provider, Facebook’s Workplace enterprise social network is now used to connect 6,000 employees — 90% of whom work part-time — across 40 states. The deployment has helped on-board new staff members faster.

“Understandably, it’s been difficult to on-board associates in a consistent and thorough manner until we adopted online collaboration tools,” said Henry Toledo, chief people officer at Valet Living.

Workers can access relevant training materials through a platform they’re already familiar with in their personal lives, said Toledo.

We know it’s critical to arm our associates with the skills needed to succeed and offer a consistent experience to our clients and residents, so we created a library of training resources, including our online training database, Valet U,  giving all new associates the chance to get up to speed quickly and efficiently,” he said.

The ability to connect a disparate workforce using digital collaboration tools — previously impossible via email alone, said Toledo — has led to tangible business benefits and reduced employee turnover.

“As we increasingly collaborate across the organization, we’ve noticed a direct correlation between connectedness and a steady rise in Valet Living’s associate retention rate,” he said. “We saw a 20% increase in associate retention since Workplace was introduced just a year ago — a testimony to our ability to make our associates feel welcomed from the jump.”

At Weight Watchers, company execs found that rolling out Workplace to 18,000 employees worldwide in 2018 helped with internal knowledge-sharing.

“One of the big questions or challenges [we had] was how do we bring everyone together?” Stacie Sherer, senior vice president for corporate communications, said in an earlier interview. “How do we break down the silos between our different geographies, and how do we break down the silos between our corporate head offices and all of the folks who are out in the field, who may only work a few hours a week but want to feel part of something bigger?”

Employees applauded the move, Sherer said. “One respondent said, ‘I feel like I work down the corridor [from] colleagues in other countries — I feel like I know them so well because of the connections they make on here,’” she said. “Because you can craft your own profile and there are groups around personal interests in addition to all the groups focused on work collaboration and communication, you get to know your colleagues in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

A culture of collaboration

Many businesses now realize the need to improve collaboration to stay competitive; not surprisingly, spending on social software and collaboration tools has been on the rise. According to Gartner, it’s expected to reach $4.8 billion in 2023 — almost double the estimated $2.7 billion spent in 2018.

A survey of roughly 40 digital transformations by Boston Consulting Group found that organizations that focused on cultural change as part of their digital transformation projects had a much higher rate of financial success (90%) than those that neglected culture (17%).

Financial software vendor Intuit, for instance, is using its transformation efforts to focus more on innovation, less on managing infrastructure. “Digital transformation is as much a mindset and cultural shift as it is a business and technical shift,” said Intuit CIO Atticus Tysen.

The company has been using Slack’s workstream collaboration app to bolster idea-sharing among staffers, no matter their location. “Slack is one way we connect our global workforce across different sites and locations through near instantaneous messaging, while also creating opportunities for like-minded individuals or teams to have an area for ongoing dialogue that doesn’t require long meetings or multiple emails,” Tysen said.

“Using Slack, we are enabling the mindset and cultural shift of finding more opportunities to work efficiently at scale.”

Another Slack user, data analytics company Splunk, has had similar experiences.

“For us, Slack was the promise of really starting to change the communication culture,” said Fred McAmis, vice president for learning and development, at Splunk.

Before deploying the app, Splunk relied on a variety of different tools to communicate. “Marketing had one tool, while product and engineering had another,” he said. “When our CTO joined, he chose Slack for engineering. It started as a pilot project and quickly spread across the organization.”

Today, short, targeted instant messages help teams push projects along. “It’s real-time, while e-mail is very formal in comparison,” he said.

Improved collaboration processes are also helping the company stay agile as business scales. “At Splunk, our employee base continues to grow year over year, which means it’s imperative to maintain the company experience,” said McAmis.

Clear pathways for professional development help employees stay motivated, he said. And there is a Slack channel for leadership courses that are available to employees at all levels of the business.

“While training is the main event, I believe learning takes reinforcement,” McAmis said. “So we use Slack to supplement the training and offer a way for our people to stay in touch and remind themselves of what they learned. Slack gives us the ability to share knowledge quickly and create knowledge databases.”

The next big push: digital tools for frontline workers

Much of the focus of digital transformation in recent years has been on office workers. But enterprise software vendors are now targeting collaboration, communication and productivity tools at a wider range of employees, such as retail, manufacturing and healthcare staff. These frontline service and task workers represent a burgeoning area of investment for many organizations.

That’s especially true of Microsoft, which has been targeting frontline workers since late 2018. “[Frontline workers are] a massive segment of workers around the world that are currently pretty drastically underserved by technology,” Emma Williams, corporate vice president of Modern Workplace Verticals at Microsoft, argued last year. “What we are delivering is a customizable experience that really focuses on a mobile-first worker based on their role.”

Those comments came as the company added a raft of updates to its Teams collaboration tool to woo frontline workers. Those additions included new mobile app functions, integrations with third-party scheduling apps and an employee “praise” tool.

One company that’s used Teams to successfully engage frontline workers is Virginia-based Ferguson, a plumbing supply company. The company rolled out Teams and sparked a shift to channel-based communications in a way that helped improve customer service with faster, more effective information sharing.

The change was especially important for showroom consultants who must answer customer questions, repeatedly check stock and generally assist with purchases.

“Historically, the showroom consultant would have to get on the phone or walk to the back office for the physical warehouse and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for this product; do we have it? Can you bring it out?’ Tony Morris, director of business process at Ferguson, explained last year. “That has not been a great experience for the customer — it can take time.”

Using Teams channels, the sales staffers at Ferguson can now quickly send a request for info to the back office using their mobile device, allowing them to better focus on customers. “They can continue to service the customer, but get feedback right through the Teams app, which is nice because they can give that information to the customer without putting the customer on hold or … [leave] sitting around waiting.”

That kind of change can lead to more efficiency, engaged workers — and happier customers.

Although many organizations are just now beginning to invest in tools for frontline employees, more money is likely on the way as the business case becomes clearer. And the evolution of the workplace, already well under way, will continue.

“We’re at the beginning of making every worker a knowledge worker,” said Kurtzman. “The collaboration of an enterprise runs much more efficiently the more ideas that are there, the more ideas that can be acted upon.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



Source link

Food fight: Slack and Microsoft trade barbs, sling stats in collaboration app battle

Competition between Slack and Microsoft over their respective chat apps has intensified recently, as the two companies clash over new usage stats – with Slack’s share price tumbling last week in the wake of new adoption figures for Teams.

Even so, analysts say Slack’s stickiness and strong user engagement offer it an advantage as businesses begin to adopt workstream collaboration software more widely.

Microsoft last week announced that Teams now has 20 million daily active users, up more than 50% from 13 million in June. The publication of those user figures appeared to have an immediate impact on Slack’s share price, which saw an 11% drop the following day. In fact, Slack’s share price has fallen by more than half since its public listing in June – an apparent sign of investor concern over its ability to compete with Microsoft long-term. 

Launched by Microsoft in 2017, Teams is available at no extra cost with certain subscriptions of Office 365; the suite has more than 200 million monthly active users. It competes with Slack and others in a team collaboration software market worth $3.5 billion this year, according to IDC analysts.

However Slack – which announced it has 12 million daily active users in October (up from 10 million in January) – has frequently called Microsoft’s user metrics into question, claiming it does not measure daily use the same way.

Daily active use and the battle of stats

The upstart contends that its customers spend more time using its application productively each day, with individuals logged in for more than nine hours, on average. This includes 90 minutes of active interaction, the company said, such as sending direct messages or reading posts in public channels. 

“As we’ve said before, you can’t transform a workplace if people aren’t actually using your product,” a Slack spokesperson said in response to Microsoft’s user figures, which it claims are overinflated. 

Microsoft said it defines daily active use as “the maximum daily users performing an intentional action in the last 28-day period across the desktop client, mobile client and web client.” 

Examples of such actions include “starting a chat, placing a call, sharing a file, editing a document within Teams, participating in a meeting, etc.”  Microsoft said it removes “passive actions” like auto-boot, minimizing a screen, or closing the app from its calculations, and de-dupes all actions across a single user ID. 

The spokesperson added there were 27 million voice or video meetings held in Teams in October, and 220 million “open, edit, or download actions” on files held in Teams. That equates to 11 such actions per user each month, on average.

Slack meanwhile said there are more than 5 billion user actions each week, such as reading and writing messages, uploading and commenting on files and interacting with apps.

Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight, said that the focus on granular levels of app use amounts to more than just posturing by Slack, serving to highlight how central the app can be to team workflows.

As Slack contends, its app is often central to a range of team interactions and workflows.

Ashenden said that, while Microsoft’s adoption figures are certainly impressive, much of Teams’ traction appears to center on meetings, thanks to Microsoft’s decision to essentially move Skype for Business Online and its users into Teams, rather than supporting employee workflow, as Slack claims to do.

“At the moment, Slack definitely has the edge in true workstream collaboration, both in terms of capabilities and customer usage,” said Ashenden. 

“Slack’s discussion about active interaction on the platform might sound pedantic, but it does highlight how central its platform is to its users’ daily activities – it’s part of their workflow, and this makes it very sticky.”

She added that, while Microsoft has made moves to improve Teams as a workstream collaboration tool, with renewed focus on integrations and automation tools such as PowerApps and Power Automate, it still lags behind Slack. 

“Until Microsoft gets a better story here, in terms of its communication to customers as well as its third party integration and developer/partner support, Slack’s position remains strong,” she said.

The gloves come off

Rivalry between the two companies has existed since Microsoft first announced the creation of Teams in 2016. Slack’s response was to take out a full page ad in the New York Times, to “welcome” Microsoft as a competitor.

CEO Stewart Butterfield has been more publicly critical of the Microsoft in recent weeks. During an on-stage interview with WSJ Tech Live last month, Butterfield accused Microsoft of “surprisingly unsportsmanlike conduct,” claiming the company has offered to pay businesses to use Teams, and took Microsoft to task for releasing Teams adoption stats soon after Slack’s post-public listing, a federally mandated quiet period for the company.

“The bigger point is that’s kind of crazy for Microsoft to do, especially during the quiet period,” he said. He added that “I think they feel like we’re an existential threat.”

Butterfield also questioned the popularity of Teams among users, noting that most the popular Google searches for Microsoft Teams relate to ways to uninstall the application.

“All of the top searches are how to uninstall, how to stop it from popping up, how to get rid of it,” he said. “So there is a very aggressive push to get people in there.”

On Thursday, Slack’s PR team also hit back at Microsoft on social media, tweeting a video that compared promotional videos for their respective products to show clear similarities. The tweet text read “OK, boomer,” referencing a meme in order to mock the perception of Microsoft as old and out of touch.

Microsoft has also fired broadsides recently. In an interview with The Verge, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, said that Slack lacks the “breadth and depth” of Teams.

During a pre-recorded press briefing for Microsoft’s Ignite conference last month, Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of communications, also made a thinly-veiled reference to Slack when discussing Teams usage with Spataro.

“Everybody has a different way of measuring things; what success looks like for us might be different to somebody else. But I have wonder if, hypothetically, spending nine hours a day in a chat app is a good productive use of time,” said Shaw.

“We are not trying to replace email with chat,” responded Spataro. “If someone is spending nine hours in a communications tool, we wonder is that really where you should be? We look at Teams as this hub where its strength undoubtedly is the underlying Microsoft 365 workloads. That is what is all about.”

How will Teams’ growth affect Slack?

While such talk is par for the course between two competing companies, it shows how seriously the two firms are throwing rhetorical elbows. Last year, Microsoft, with a market cap of more than $1 trillion, listed Slack as an official competitor to its Office suite in its annual 10K report, placing it alongside Apple, Cisco, Google and IBM. 

And it reportedly put Slack on a list of internally banned apps, ostensibly for security concerns. (Slack’s CEO claims there are still pockets of use within the company.)

Perhaps the most significant sign of competition between the two  is the scale of Microsoft’s investments in building out Teams. In addition to deepening integrations with Office 365 tools, it has introduced a wide range of features, including capabilities to support “frontline” workers. At its Ignite event, there was a notable increase in the volume of Teams announcements, including the launch of private channels, an important feature Slack has had for some time.

And Teams has plenty of room to grow, too, with only a small proportion of Office 365 customers currently using the app.

Despite Slack’s swift uptake – it has claimed to be  the fastest growing business app of all time – and growing revenues, the company has yet to make a profit. It reported an annual loss of $138.9 million for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31 on revenues of $400.6 million. In its most recent quarterly results, Slack posted higher-than-expected revenues of $145 million. 

Slack has struggled at times since its public listing in June. Despite its swift uptake – it’s regarded as the fastest growing business app of all time – and growing revenues, it has yet to make a profit. It reported an annual loss of $138.9 million for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2019 on revenues of $400.6 million. In its most recent quarterly results, it posted higher-than-expected revenues of $145 million. 

Nevertheless, it has continued to attract more users in the past year as it has added automation capabilities, improved links with email (including Microsoft’s Outlook), while boosting security and management capabilities in Enterprise Grid, which is aimed at large businesses. Slack sees big potential in the long term, and estimated in its S-1 filing that the market has a potential value of $28 billion

While Slack and Teams play in the same market, the impact of Teams on Slack’s growth can easily be overstated, said Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner. 

“Certainly, users in Office 365 enterprises are getting exposed to Teams, but that alone does not guarantee success,” he said. “Also, Slack has a fair amount of momentum all its own with some extremely passionate users.”

For many companies, this is not necessarily an “either/or” scenario; in many cases, businesses are using both apps.  (Computerworld employees have access to both apps.) According to Slack’s CEO, the majority of its customers also pay for Office 365 too.

Cannell added that, while it is natural for any company to be concerned when Microsoft offers up a successful competing product it is too early to see who will come out on top.  

“Successfully using either product requires changes in how groups operate on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Each vendor is taking different approaches to encouraging or enabling this behavioral change and is too early to tell who will be successful.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



Source link

How to combine project management and collaboration

The collaboration software market has gotten a bit crowded, with dozens of virtual workspaces offered, each tool taking a slightly different approach to appeal to business needs. These days any office manager or administrator looking to choose one can easily become overwhelmed. 

Many of these workspace collaboration tools go beyond simple chat, online meetings and file sharing. These collaboration workhorses turn conversations into action, letting you quickly create and assign new tasks, while making sure multiple, simultaneous projects are hitting their deadlines. 

Here we’ll take a look at ways collaboration tools incorporate project management, or how to outfit your existing tool to get the job done. 

Three collaboration options

You can take one of three different approaches for using workplace chat and project management tools in an office setting: a multi-tool approach, third-party apps or a hybrid chat and planning tool. 

In the first scenario, an organization might decide to use one app for collaboration and another tool for project management. The collaboration software is used to send instant messages to coworkers — remote and on site — share documents and other files, start audio and video calls, and share information across the organization. A second, separate, app is used for keeping projects on track, with features for assigning tasks, developing calendars and creating Gantt charts or other timelines. 

Related: G Suite vs. Office 365 cloud collaboration battle heats up

An alternative approach is to use collaboration software that lets users or administrators install third-party apps, sometimes called integrations. A project management integration could allow coworkers to create and assign tasks inside their collaboration tool, reducing the need to open another program. Inside their chat tool, team members can change who tasks are assigned to, provide comments about the task, or change a due date — all without leaving a single interface.

Slack or Microsoft Teams, the most commonly used collaboration tools in the enterprise, both integrate with hundreds of apps, including project management tools like Trello and Asana. This method isn’t as full-featured as actively working in two discrete apps. In some cases, employees will need to open the project management software to handle complex tasks. But for day-to-day assigning and editing action items, an integration can save time.

A third approach instead incorporates collaboration and project management into one tool. Some examples are Ryver, Quip or Atlassian, which offer both productivity and chat features. 

Consider how these might look in the workplace: Within any organization, there may be several collaboration tools in use by different departments, each with a different approach that’s tailored to their business needs. And those departments may set up other collaboration tools as needed, for example to work with outside vendors.  

Project managers or developers of software products might favor the bug-tracking features in Atlassian, which has built-in chat. A business division that relies on Office 365 might prefer Microsoft Teams, which can integrate with a project management tool, like Trello or Asana. And the office staff might see benefits from a combination chat and project management tool, such as Ryver.

[ Related: 4 tips for picking the right collaboration suite ]

Integrations

Integrating a project management app into your existing collaboration software is quick and easy, with a few caveats. Here’s an overview of how to add apps to the widely used collaboration tools Slack and Microsoft Teams.

In Slack, employees by default can install any app they choose. However, the owner or administrator of the Slack workspace can set permissions that block all app installations that haven’t been approved by the admin. Or the admin can block certain apps, or create a list of apps that are all pre-approved.   

During installation, each app will ask for permission to access certain information, for example your email address, or seek permission to automatically post a message under your name, among other rights. Depending on the rights requested, your admin may find them too broad. If you own workspace, you’ll want to carefully consider what you allow a third-party app to access, and what actions it can perform, in your virtual workspace.

In Microsoft Teams, admins can “pin” certain approved apps to the workspace, which users can then install. Admins can pin apps that are widely used in the organization (for example, Trello or Jira Cloud). Admins can also set the workspace to restrict — or allow — installation of apps by user or groups, for example setting rights globally for all users or by department. 

Standalone apps

If you and your coworkers decide two tools is one too many, consider software designed to meet an office’s communication and project management needs in one interface. Here’s a quick overview of some of the more notable multitasking tools in this market.  

Ryver is an interesting choice because, where some tools are focused primarily on either collaboration or project management, this tool takes an equal approach to both. Ryver uses a Slack-like chat interface, which also allows you to convert a conversation into tasks, keeping all the associated chats together in one thread. Then you can schedule those tasks, track them, and at the end of the project, mark them complete. Ryver also offers integrations with common communication and business software, including Gmail, Dropbox and Salesforce.  

Project management mainstay Basecamp has its own inbox for messages and notices about new tasks, as well as a chat tool called Campfire. Users can message each other privately, use live chat, post links or share files in Campfire. Basecamp aims to keep chat messages connected to projects so that communication around that project are centralized and easy to find. 

Sales teams in particular may want to investigate Quip, a collaboration tool that was purchased by the CRM software company Salesforce. Quip allows users to collaboratively edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets in the Salesforce interface. The integration also allows Quip spreadsheets to pull in data from Salesforce, for example spreadsheets that stay up to date as information is updated.

Like Basecamp, Asansa is a project-management product that includes a commenting feature around teams that functions similarly to chat, and connects those conversations to tasks. However, you can also integrate Asana directly into more chat tools, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, if you prefer — and many teams will — as they’re more full-featured communication tools. 

Following up

Choosing workplace communication apps that boost productivity is at top of mind for those making buying decisions about enterprise software, said Raul Castanon, a senior analyst at 451 Research. 

“Incorporating productivity features makes sense because they’re used on a daily basis by knowledge workers and they are critical for planning and executing work,” Castanon says. “Improving the line of sight from strategy to employee execution is a top priority for IT decision-makers. There are good examples of how this approach can be effective, specifically within the devops and IT environments — for example, tools by Atlassian, or even Slack thar has a strong core customer base in those areas. We’re seeing growing interest in extending this mode of work to other areas throughout organizations, although it’s still in early stages.”



Source link

Information overload? 5 tips to tame team collaboration apps

Email, video and messaging apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams make it possible to easily collaborate with co-workers, no matter what time zone (or country) they happen to be in. And access to mobile versions of the same apps means that colleagues can quickly respond to a DM, follow a group conversation or make a quick edit to file at virtually any time.

But with that ease of use comes a problem: workers can become overwhelmed by a barrage of notifications from colleagues before the workday begins, during it, and after it should be over. And that’s not good for productivity or distracted workers’ stress levels.

Research from UC Irvine has shown it can take more than 20 minutes to become immersed in a task after an interruption, while a different study claims that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%. The increased collaborative workload can even lead to burnout — something the World Health Organization recently recognized as an occupational phenomenon — with the always-on nature of modern communications a contributing factor, according to Harvard Business Review research.

Gartner analyst Craig Roth has noted in recent blog posts that information overload is a tricky problem with plenty of blame to go around, whether it be managers with inflated expectations, corporate IT that deploys overlapping tools, or the vendors that create apps so adept at grabbing our attention.



Source link

How to pick the right collaboration suite

Collaboration software has emerged as a key component of the modern office environment. But in selecting collaboration tools, it’s important to take into consideration the needs, work style and culture of different departments. Otherwise your organization may actually see reduced productivity or even face security risks.

In a report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, four out of 10 survey respondents said their workplace technology actually makes it harder to work quickly, and a third said their enterprise technology makes it harder to collaborate.

[ IT leadership 10 steps to a successful digital transformation Learn more about IDG’s new Insider Pro premium, ad-free subscription site ]

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Choosing the right collaboration tools can make it easier to find and share company data, work with distributed teams, offer flexible work arrangements, increase engagement and help avoid burnout. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that firms should consider when selecting collaboration software for their office.

1. Develop a portfolio

Instead of creating a list of requirements for one tool and checking off the boxes, take a portfolio-based approach that’s focused on getting work done, says Mike Gotta, research vice president at Gartner.

Collaboration software has emerged as a key component of the modern office environment. But in selecting collaboration tools, it’s important to take into consideration the needs, work style and culture of different departments. Otherwise your organization may actually see reduced productivity or even face security risks.

In a report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, four out of 10 survey respondents said their workplace technology actually makes it harder to work quickly, and a third said their enterprise technology makes it harder to collaborate.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Choosing the right collaboration tools can make it easier to find and share company data, work with distributed teams, offer flexible work arrangements, increase engagement and help avoid burnout. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that firms should consider when selecting collaboration software for their office.

1. Develop a portfolio

Instead of creating a list of requirements for one tool and checking off the boxes, take a portfolio-based approach that’s focused on getting work done, says Mike Gotta, research vice president at Gartner.

Different departments have needs that a one-size-fits-all software package won’t satisfy, he said. Teams also likely need seamless integration into their existing day-to-day software. “The collaborative tool that sales may need might be different than the collaborative tool that somebody in product development or DevOps need,” Gotta said. 

And rather than being overwhelmed by dozens of collaboration choices on the market, he sees opportunities in their various approaches that can help get work done.

“Some of those tools will be foundational,” Gotta said. “They’re available to everybody across the company. There’s a least common denominator. Some of them will be within domains, like sales, marketing, or customer service. And some of them will be situational, used for something that’s very specific or maybe external collaboration with a partner.”

A firm that rolls out G Suite or Office 365, for example, might be inclined to standardize on their associated chat, video and screen-sharing tools. But they’re unlikely to take hold, Gotta says. The development team might prefer open-source software or threaded discussions that make it simpler to track bugs and new features. Some teams within the business side might prefer to use Quip, the chat and file sharing tool from Salesforce.

“You can say, ‘Well, why don’t you use your large productivity suite?”’ Gotta said. “Because it doesn’t always do everything the way that business needs to be done.” He advises stepping back before settling on a tool and first asking how you’ll establish criteria for your foundational collaboration tools — and how to go about developing criteria for situational collaboration tools. 

“Then I map in the different tooling,” he said. “I have some flexibility on what I recommend to a particular group of employees in the company. Otherwise, you’re like Johnny Appleseed running around, hammered every day. We’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work.”

2. Take a fresh look 

In a related Gartner report on workplace collaboration, the research firm suggests an approach called ACME — activity, context, motivation and enabling tech. The concept avoids a top-down approach that may miss the needs of employees. It also allows teams that have similar work styles to reuse the same tools, reducing costs where possible and support hours. 

“You have to understand what the work activity is, the use case,” Gotta said. “What’s the context of the work? Is it sales, marketing, service? What’s the cultural aspect of it, the motivational aspects for people to use the tool in a particular way?”

The approach, according to Gartner, allows leaders in the organization to “discover groups across the enterprise that demonstrate similar work dynamics and team behaviors — for instance, those involved in time sensitive, rapid-response situations, or those involved in addressing field incidents where Slack or Atlassian’s HipChat might be appropriate to recommend.

Conversely, there may be global teams that require heavy use of existing enterprise audio/video services as a primary means to coordinate and support group interactions in physical meeting rooms. In such a case, Cisco Spark or Microsoft Teams might be the better choice, as part of an ACME process.”

Gartner also advises developing methods for measuring the effectiveness of new collaboration tools once they’re introduced. “Institute a method for collecting feedback from groups using workstream tools across the organization,” the firm suggests, “and then applying this experience to existing and subsequent initiatives.”

3. Don’t forget security considerations

Day-to-day workplace communication increasingly happens through chat and online meetings, which means an organization’s most sensitive information can be found there, and, potentially exposed.

“It’s critical that such software meets or exceeds the security practices of the user enterprise,” said Robb Reck, CISO at Ping Identity. “Introducing a new, unproven collaboration tool can undo all the other work a CISO has done to build a successful security program. It’s important for organizations to understand the monitoring and security options that are available within the collaboration product such as being able to identify insider threats, and the collaboration vendor’s capabilities for using data collected from your network. One question to ask: Is the vendor using your data to improve their service, or selling that information to marketers? These are all critical components that impact the risk to a firm.”

LogMeIn’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Gerald Beuchelt said there are signs to look for when vetting collaboration services. 

“I think what’s really important in this context is that if you do look at different vendors you really try to understand and engage their willingness to be transparent with their customers around the security program,” Beuchelt said. “If there’s a sense that the vendor is not trying to be as transparent as possible with the customer that would be a warning flag for me, and that’s true for any kind of software or Platform-as-a-Service.”

4. Think mobile

Regardless of the collaboration tools selected, businesses are increasingly demanding mobile-optimization for distributed teams, employees who travel often or work from home, and even those who won’t stray far from the office. 

“IT decision-makers from organizations that tend to be on the leading edge when it comes to technology adoption are significantly more likely to identify high productivity gains from mobile messaging,” said Raul Castanon-Martinez, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

“Even for employees that typically work in an office, mobility is a requirement since they need to move around. Our research also shows that even when they are at their desk, employees typically reach first for their smartphone rather than a desk phone. This is very common among younger workers — millennials and Gen Z — but they are early adopters. We’re see these behavior trends expand across all age groups.”



Source link

Dropbox launches Spaces, its ‘smart’ collaboration workspace

Dropbox this week launched a collaboration hub designed to let users work together around a variety of documents, another step in the company’s evolution beyond cloud file-sharing into something more focused on productivity. 

The San Francisco-based company initially revealed plans for its revamped application –  now called Dropbox Spaces – in June, along with a new desktop app.  Spaces acts as a shared folder for teams that combines documents from a range of sources in one place, with the ability to chat with colleagues and assign tasks. The new-look Dropbox and desktop app also connects with various third-party video and text communication platforms.

The rollout of Spaces edges the company into closer competition with the likes of Slack, Microsoft Teams and other vendors that all aim to be the central app employees spend most of their day using. 

“Dropbox is moving out from beyond the folder, from that popular file-sharing product to an enterprise platform that is creating a smart workspace and supporting ecosystem,” said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC. 

At a launch event Wednesday, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston said the changes to its core platform will help office workers manage the influx of information they get during the work day. The numerous apps that workers now rely on have become a distraction and can negatively effect productivity, he said.

Dropbox focus Dropbox

Dropbox says Spaces can help workers better focus on the task at hand.

“We started asking what if Dropbox could evolve into a new type of app that helps other apps work better together,” said Houston. “What if your workspace, which today is just this whole rat’s nest, knew how to organize itself? What if it actually helped you focus rather than distracting you? …What if your workspace was actually smart?

“Well, that is exactly what we’re building: the smart workspace.…”

Dropbox offers a variety of pricing plans for individual users or teams. A limited Basic version is available for free for individual users, with Plus ($9.99 per month) and Professional ($15.68 per month) tiers adding more storage and additional features such as Smart Sync and offline access, as well as enhanced support.

Pricing for Dropbox Business starts at $12.50 per user per month, and includes admin features such as two-factor authentication, an admin console and file recovery. Advanced ($20 per user per month) and Enterprise (pricing available on request) tiers offer enhancements such as unlimited storage and personalized support.

In addition to announcing the availability of Spaces, Dropbox offered details of new features to come. That list includes integration with Dropbox Paper, the company’s collaborative word processing tool, which will be accessible alongside Google Docs and Microsoft Office files in Spaces. Also on the way: integration with Atlassian’s popular work management application, Trello, that lets users add Dropbox content to Trello cards, and integration with e-signature app, HelloSign.

Trello integration Dropbox

Dropbox plans integration with Trello.

There are also a number of artificial intelligence-based features to help users manage files more effectively and stay on top of colleagues working in Spaces.

Team highlights provide an overview of the colleagues’ activity, such as updates to documents, while Dropbox’s machine learning capabilities have been applied to suggest content for users when they need it – for example, information that might be needed ahead of a scheduled meeting.

Dropbox image search Dropbox

Image search allows for searches based on a description of the content.

Image search lets users seek out images using a description of the content – such as “clothing” –   rather than relying on a file name. It will also be possible to track down text documents by searching for key phrases that occur within a document, including PDFs.

Kurtzman said Dropbox has spent a lot of time and money on AI initiative, dubbed DBXi, which is “starting to pay off with this release.

“Their focus has advanced from file storage to the content and collaboration that enables work to get done,” he said. “Their ‘graph’ leverages signals from connections, work teams and integrations that result in a smarter workspace, including image recognition for photos, and signatures through their HelloSign acquisition.” 

Among the other features unveiled are previews for files, including AutoCAD documents that can be viewed from the Spaces desktop app – even if a user doesn’t have the native application installed – and Dropbox Binder, which lets users collate documents, images, PDFs and more into a single place.

Gaining adoption while retaining long-time users

Kurtzman noted that some users may prefer the original and more simplified Dropbox file-storage structure. Dropbox will continue to function as a simple file sync-and-storage platform.

“People not ready for a more intelligent workspace may yearn for the Dropbox that just stored files and just worked,” he said. “It still does that. Some users will take longer to adopt, just as they did when they finally updated to a smart phone.”

The revamped software marks the latest step in the company’s evolution into a collaboration business. 

“This is a significant change for Dropbox that further positions it as a collaboration player,” Raúl Castañón-Martínez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, said in June when Dropbox first talked up its plans. “Dropbox has naturally gravitated to collaboration; this is how users instinctively use it, as a repository where collaboration workflows start. The redesign however, makes it official: Dropbox is staking a claim as a destination where work gets done.”

The desktop app seems like a “natural evolution” for the company, Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner, said at the time. “Documents are a core focus of many teams’ online collaboration. However, teams need more than documents. They also track tasks, share feedback and need to keep tabs on what others are doing.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



Source link

Leading Dutch construction group drives closer collaboration and mobile Firstline working with modern enterprise solutions

“We believe that standardization and the cloud are central to providing us with a platform for innovation—that’s why we wanted to work with Microsoft. It gives us the tools we required to grow.”

– Frank de Jong, IT Manager, VolkerWessels Construction & Real Estate Development 

The recession that followed the banking crisis of 2007 affected the whole Dutch economy. However, construction group VolkerWessels saw it as a springboard to move forward.

“The crisis gave us a choice—we could sit crying in the corner or use it as an opportunity to innovate,” says Frank de Jong, IT Manager at VolkerWessels Construction & Real Estate Development. “We looked hard at how technology could help us move into the future.”

VolkerWessels is dedicated to building a better quality of life for people across the countries it operates in. It prides itself on being at the forefront of the construction sector when it comes to innovation, sustainability and efficiency.

However, the company felt that its existing, disparate IT infrastructure was not providing the platform that it required to deliver efficient, innovative solutions. Instability meant that there were near-constant technology issues, leading to system outages, with employees often unable to work productively.

“While cost is always a factor, we used the recession to examine how other construction companies operate. From this, we realized we needed to change,” explains Luurt van der Ploeg, CFO at VolkerWessels Construction & Real Estate Development. “We had to industrialize our construction processes to reduce failure costs, decrease construction time, and increase delivery security.”

From the frontline to the boardroom

VolkerWessels employees range from Firstline Workers on construction sites to managers and executives in office buildings. To better support its disparate teams, the company needed technology that would be flexible and scalable enough to transform its operations. Consequently, it chose to migrate its work environment to Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3, which includes Office 365 ProPlus, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. VolkerWessels also deployed Microsoft Azure to move its infrastructure to the cloud.

“We believe that standardization and the cloud are central to providing us with a platform for innovation—that’s why we wanted to work with Microsoft,” says de Jong. “It gives us the tools we required to move the business forward.”

VolkerWessels includes five separate divisions, but the construction and real estate development department has helped lead the digital transformation. It has now empowered 4,000 users with everything they need to work more flexibly, securely, and efficiently—wherever they are. For example, 1,000 employees use Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365 ProPlus on Microsoft Surface Pro devices to access and update information from construction sites. As data is in the cloud, workers can seamlessly transition between devices, while working with colleagues on different platforms without barriers. Tasks that previously could only be carried out in an office can now be achieved onsite, speeding up processes and making it simple and secure to enable closer collaboration with customers, contractors, and partners with Office 365 ProPlus.

VolkerWessels is now using the full range of tools and applications within Office 365, including Microsoft OneDrive for cloud-based storage and Yammer for companywide communication. Demonstrating the scale of the solution, the platform handled over 24.5 million incoming and outgoing emails in 2018 through Microsoft Outlook. And the company now stores 680,000 documents on Microsoft SharePoint Online, up from 380,000 in 2017.

Security for a mobile workforce

With an increasingly mobile, always-on workforce, security is vital. VolkerWessels relies on the security features within Microsoft, including Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), which leverages machine learning and threat intelligence in the cloud to detect advanced attacks and protect users. “Every email is scanned, and every user is aware of this. This means they know that when they receive an attachment it is safe to open,” says de Jong.

To manage the company’s 6,000 mobile devices, VolkerWessels uses Microsoft Intune, which reduces administration time through simpler device management, and makes it straightforward to remotely erase data if devices are lost or stolen. “Our auditors recently evaluated our operations and were very impressed with how we protect data on mobile devices using Intune.”

Providing a platform for future growth

Unlike its previous infrastructure, VolkerWessels is confident that all of its activities are underpinned by a standards-based, stable and always available platform. Employees can access their data in the cloud securely from any authorized device. “With Microsoft, we have the stability we need. We know our data is always up to date in the cloud, so we can shift our focus to improving the business, rather than managing IT. For example, moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was extremely straightforward,” says de Jong.

Supporting business transformation

By working with Microsoft, VolkerWessels is further digitizing its business to drive innovation and efficiency. For example, in partnership with Microsoft, it has developed a 3D asset management solution. This brings together data on buildings and models  in a visual, understandable way, helping VolkerWessels to better advise customers, such as real estate owners, on how they manage their buildings and opening up potential new revenue opportunities. “When we chose to change suppliers, it was not only about cost, but also quality. We were looking for a partner for the future—we have this with Microsoft. The team is very proactive in giving us advice and helping us move forward,” says van der Ploeg.

Underpinning new ways of working

VolkerWessels employees are now able to work in a more mobile, flexible way. For a company of 16,000 with a decentralized structure, this helps drive greater co-operation. They can more securely share files through SharePoint with internal employees and external partners, with Microsoft Teams being evaluated as a hub for future collaboration. In 2018, VolkerWessels held 4,100 meetings over Skype for Business, enabling employees to work more effectively and reducing travel time.

Gerwin Plaggenmars, Business Manager at VolkerWessels Construction & Real Estate Development, who is responsible for introducing new technology from the business side, explains that the company is driving user adoption through focused pilots that are then expanded, “One of the key benefits our teams talk about is the ability to communicate and work together. Sharing files and having a conversation is now just one click away.”

“The construction industry is undergoing transformation. Just three years ago it was all paper and 2D information. Now we are digitized and using 3D models,” says van der Ploeg. “We can show customers upfront what they will get and be 99.9 percent sure that they will receive it—Microsoft’s platform enables us to deliver.”

Find out more about VolkerWessels on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.





Source link