Tag: collaboration

To Chat, or Not to Chat, for Effective Business Communication?

“To Chat, or Not to Chat: …”

…that is the question”, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, but, in the context of effective business communication in a mobile-centric world, is this question really the one that you should be asking?

business communication
“To chat or not to chat?” may not be the right question to ask for effective business communication.

It seems that business organizations today are looking to borrow from the consumer world and implement chat solutions to improve the way they communicate and collaborate. The main reason for this appears to be because that is what their employees are using to communicate via their phones and tablet devices to their family and friends so why not use their preference in this area to make it easier to communicate with colleagues across the organization?

We have been here before. A few years ago there was a drive to become ‘social’. Not to be confused with being generous to your local community, social business was about breaking down silos within an organization, sharing knowledge, fostering innovation and improving engagement with employees as well as with business partners and even customers. A variety of solutions emerged: Jive, Yammer, Clearvale, Podio, Huddle and so on and so on; all leveraging what was happening in the consumer world but bringing the capabilities within the business organization as an ‘Enterprise Social Network’ or ‘ESN’, i.e. what became known as ‘Facebook for business’ or ‘Twitter for business’ (before Facebook themselves started promoting their own application for business!) reflecting this penchant for all things ‘social’.

However, whilst there have been some companies that have successfully adopted these ESN solutions, for a large majority it was a step too far as users failed to embrace the activities required. Many saw it as another communication channel alongside email that needed to be checked and responded to or just used it for real social activities with work colleagues: organizing the five-a-side league; lunchtime jogging sessions; after work get-togethers and so on. That is, idle chit-chat and nothing really to do with knowledge sharing or collaboration on work initiatives; and, of course, many simply reverted to email as their communication tool of choice despite email’s shortcomings for effective business collaboration.

Today, with the likes of ‘WeChat’ and ‘WhatsApp’ being extremely popular as an alternative communication channel, organizations are now looking to embrace this type of application for an ‘Enterprise Chat’ solution to go alongside the use of personal phones and tablet devices for business use; what is known as ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device).  But this trend potentially could end up in the same place as their ESN solution. Just being yet another channel on top of email and that needs to be checked. So, rather than replacing email these ‘Enterprise Chat’ solutions simply add to the current communication overload and fragmented discussions prevalent within organizations. They may be useful for small teams on specific short-term projects, or even for customer service teams to engage with customers via a channel the customer has a preference for, but, at the end of the day they are not really doing anything to foster effective business collaboration and engagement or to drive productivity improvements across an organization.

Enterprise Chat might be something that organizations think they want to improve business communication and collaboration, especially as many employees are using their own mobile devices anyway, but is it really what they need, especially if the anticipated productivity improvements are not likely to be forthcoming.  Why add yet another communication channel when what is really needed is something that is in tune with the way people work today whether they are in an office, working from home or travelling on a regular basis; on a desktop or on a mobile device, that actually reduces the communication overload and facilitates the effective collaboration and engagement necessary to drive knowledge sharing and improve business performance. Chat is only one part of business communication so focusing on this aspect only might not be the best move in the path to true collaboration and engagement in a mobile-centric business world.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare again: “Alas, poor (insert Enterprise Chat solution of choice)! I knew him, Horatio: a solution of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy …”

Want more on this subject? Read 6 Reasons Why You Need Mobile Collaboration in Business and 6 Business Communication Trends.

6 Reasons Why You Need Mobile Collaboration in Business

 

Whether smartphone, ultra-portable laptop or tablet, mobile devices are more common in business now than ever before. While not every business encourages the use of mobile devices in the workplace, collaboration on these devices can be achieved with productive results. Here are six reasons why businesses need mobile collaboration.

1. Capture and share an idea while it is fresh.

How often have you been out and about when an idea popped into your head?  An Eureka moment! One you want to share or bounce off someone ASAP. You can phone someone, but as sure as “eggs is eggs,” they won’t be there. Besides you might want to share it with several people. You can make a note of it in your phone, but somehow when you look later, it doesn’t have the same freshness. So post it from your phone now to a collaboration space, and let your colleagues build on the idea.

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Embrace mobile collaboration in the workplace for increased productivity, efficiency and business velocity.

2. Deal with issues on time, but avoid “off the cuff” decisions.

You get a phone call about an issue that has come up. You feel you have to provide an answer because another phone call is not possible until much later, you are pressed for time, it’s a rush but make a decision anyway. Later you realise, on reflection, you are not sure that you articulated your decision well, and there could have been a misunderstanding.  In situations like this, wouldn’t it be better in a mobile collaboration tool, to acknowledge and accept the issue, perhaps suggest a preliminary answer but allow a little more time for clarification? Then you’re free to provide a more considered decision with clearer reasoning later.

3. Create “flex time.”

When I left Primary School aged 11, it was a tradition for the leavers to ask each of the teachers for an autograph and perhaps a written memento. My final year teacher wrote for me the Francis Bacon quotation, “A man that is young in years may be old in hours if he have lost no time. ” Mobile collaboration means creating “flex time.” With a mobile, in those brief (but previously inconsequential) periods of time, you can use those little intervals to deal with the many issues that can otherwise stack up during the day. Without mobile collaboration some of those questions would have come as phone calls, often at inconvenient times that interrupt conversations or valuable thinking time. Flex time means you can make better use of otherwise dead time to sweep away all those issues that can be dealt with quickly, so they don’t interfere with the more precious, larger chunks of time you want for spending time with people, thinking, writing, and the like. Far from adding stress, managed correctly, mobile collaboration will reduce the pressure on personal time.

4. Leverage the mobile revolution.

Everyone has a smartphone or tablet now – why not make use of that? In 2015 there were 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally, and by 2020, globally there will be 6.1 smartphone users. Smartphones will overtake the number of active fixed-line subscriptions worldwide in 2020. More and more, people use their smartphones more frequently than their laptops and desktops for keeping up to date with events, for connecting with others, and sharing information. Most firms now either have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy or equip their staff with mobile devices. It is a no-brainer to ensure that you can engage with your colleagues, your customers, your partners, and suppliers on mobile.

5. Get access to people you have not had much connection with before.

The social capabilities of a modern mobile collaboration platform, like Vmoso, means that people, together with their expertise and knowledge, in and beyond the business are better connected. Information flows better and faster, decisions are quicker and better informed. Business velocity is greater.

6. Today’s collaboration is tomorrow’s knowledge.

In this mobile age, technology has encouraged us to operate in the here-and-now. With that, in our personal lives, many of us use mobile chat to communicate with our friends and family. Call it “chit-chat.” And in business we have been tempted to take that same habit into the workplace. But such “chit-chat” has no lasting value – if it takes place on consumer tools, it is outside the view of the company. And such tools are not designed to capture and organise the valuable knowledge in communication. A true mobile business collaboration platform uses the chat paradigm for its ease and convenience of communication, but also ensures the content of communication is organised, linked and managed so it can be searched, queried, and analysed in perpetuity. It is where mobile enterprise collaboration meets knowledge management, and businesses should strive for both.

How to Get Your Team Working More Efficiently

When productivity slumps, the work isn’t the only thing that suffers. Morale also sinks with it. Sometimes the morale issues cause the efficiency decline, sometimes it goes the other way. But if you need to improve your team’s efficiency, there are some tried and proven ways to do it. Be a good leader, and your team’s productivity and intensity will surprise you!

Establish Roles

Team working more efficiently
Which workers are responsible for what assignments? Make sure they know what’s expected of them.

Are the roles within your team clearly defined and well understood? If productivity is lacking, it could be a matter of confusion over who needs to take responsibility for what. For example, if no one knows they’re in charge of printing and reviewing report X, it’s unlikely to get done. If Sammy thinks it’s Sally’s job, he won’t want to step on her toes by taking the initiative to do it. Make sure the roles and responsibilities within your team are well defined and clearly assigned.

Set Clearly Communicated Objectives

Team working more efficiently
What goals are your team trying to meet? What’s in it for them if they succeed?

If your workers have no better concept of your objectives than, “We need to do this, and do it as quickly as possible,” they aren’t in a position to help you meet your goals. Set clear objectives, such as improving production by 10 percent by quarter end, or producing X number of widgets per day. Then make sure that they understand what their stake in meeting the goals is: how will they benefit from the company’s improved efficiency? This might be a more stable job situation or a bonus, or even a pizza party, but they need to know what meeting your objectives does for them personally.

Delegate Wisely

Do you delegate simply by handing off the junk you don’t want to do to your team? If so, this is probably demoralizing your workers and driving down their efficiency and productivity. Give your workers authority over an aspect of the work, and assign them responsibility for the outcome. This endows them with ownership, and a sense of ownership always improves productivity.

Provide Better Collaboration Tools

Are workers so inundated with emails, voice mails, and instant messages that they can’t be productive? If so, better collaborative tools can cut down on meaningless correspondence and communications and allow your workers to receive the information they need to do their jobs while eliminating useless distractions. Vmoso is a proven platform for better office communication and collaboration.

Lead by Example

Have you ever visited a restaurant or fast food joint where the manager had their sleeves rolled up, working as hard as the workers? If so, you’ve likely noticed that the workers are also cranking out work as quickly and efficiently as they are capable of. Managers who work hard themselves establish an atmosphere of productivity and rarely have trouble getting their team members on board.

Ax the Busywork

Is your office snowed under with generating meaningless reports, attending useless meetings, or other unnecessary busywork? Streamline processes and eliminate stuff that isn’t essential for efficiency and productivity. This doesn’t just free up more time for workers to produce, it also improves morale so that they have a great attitude about digging in and getting things done.

Ready to take working efficiently to the next level? Get even more helpful tips in the next post, the Project Management Approach to a More Effective Workday.

HR Performance Event 2012 – BroadVision Seminar Sessions

Enterprise social network solutions, as well as changes in employee expectations regarding communication and collaboration at work, are placing additional challenges on HR Departments as the guardians of organisational culture. Both the desire for and the nature of these social business solutions is here to stay. HR need to navigate their way through the various interests in an organisation to manage both the bottom up ‘viral’ adoption that we have seen from various discussion platforms in recent years as well as the strategic initiatives for employee engagement. The key thing is that your organization’s culture and challenges are unique; blanket approaches such as: ‘Let’s get everyone on xxxxxx’, may not really solve your specific business problems or facilitate the transformation required.

The business benefits of social collaboration are real; unlocking knowledge; driving innovation; faster and more informed decision-making; and improved productivity. However, many social business projects fail to gain wide adoption, either through underuse and a perceived lack of real benefits; or through overuse and a perceived lack of productivity. Ultimately, whether the perception is positive or negative will tie closely to the quality of the interactions between employees and other participants, e.g., the value of the content they contribute. HR has a significant role to play both in the choice of an enterprise social network solution and in setting out a plan for adoption.

BroadVision is proud to be sponsoring the ‘HR Innovation and Technology’ Arena at the HR Performance 2012 event November 21st and 22nd at ExCel  in London where we will be presenting two key sessions on driving value out of your investment in an Enterprise Social Network.

The first session on Wednesday November 21st (10:15) will examine the way employees’ online behaviour may differ to real-life behaviour. This presents both opportunities and challenges in developing employee engagement strategies to unlock the knowledge of all participants in your enterprise social network.

The second session on Thursday November 22nd (14:15) will look at how to get the best out of your enterprise social network solution. Your social collaboration platform must be more than an additional discussion channel. To be truly effective your solution needs to be a place where real work gets done. To achieve that, the network needs to be the host of real business processes, whether they are new processes or existing processes migrated into the social network from elsewhere. Simply taking an existing business process and hosting it in a social network fails to take advantage of the inherent benefits of a social environment. This session will examine what is a “social business process”, and how does it differ from what we have seen before.

For HR, the opportunity to help drive superior business performance by designing and implementing strategies to increase and reward effective collaboration has never been more apparent. If you believe your organization can achieve significant competitive advantage by more effective internal communication, collaboration, and teamwork, then you as an HR practitioner will definitely benefit from both these sessions. To book please see the HR Performance 2012 event seminar sessions.

Enterprise Connections

“Let’s begin to tap the astronomical, incomprehensible amount of talent in the brains of the 6 billion people on this planet, compared with which Newton is a match in the dark at 100 miles.” James Burke – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Episode 18 “A Fly on James Burke’s Wall”

How many moves does it take to get from the philosopher Goethe’s obsession with a friend of Beethoven to the invention of margarine? According to James Burke’s Knowledge Web, only 8 (visit http://www.k-web.org/public_html/Mystery-tours/Goethe_to_Margarine.html for the full story).

James Burke is a science historian and author, and anyone who has seen his “Connections” series is probably familiar with this line of thinking: progress is not the outcome of individuals or groups working in isolation, but the product of multiple individuals and groups, interacting and connecting, seeking to fulfill their own interests, and rarely having any concept of the ultimate innovation that comes about as a result.

Many innovations are the result of coincidences. But it’s not the coincidences themselves that lead to the innovation, but rather the creativity and ingenuity that were set free on a path paved by coincidence. Coincidence has led to two strangers coming into contact with one another, or someone recommending a book to a friend, or someone remembering a colleague’s previous failure. That last one is a reference to the Post-It note, which was born from Spencer Silver’s failed attempt at creating a strong adhesive. His colleague, Arthur Fry finding the need for a weak adhesive remembered Silver’s failure, which led to the Post-It note (full story here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-it_note)

But that never had to happen. Fry didn’t have to remember Silver’s failure. It’s not like there was some cloud-based, easy to navigate repository for this kind of thing. The point is, it’s not really the coincidence that is important to innovation, so we might be able to take that out of the equation.

In fact, if we take the opposite approach, I think we can speed up and multiply opportunities for innovation within the enterprise. This is most easily evident via the activity stream, and some theoretical examples can include:

  • I learn of a coworker’s project that does not involve me, though I might have some previous experience, and can easily offer some ideas
  • Sales informs the company of a new prospect, which turns out to be the former employer of someone from engineering, who can now offer some insight into the company
  • Marketing posts about working on a video, and someone from finance has experience with video editing and volunteers to help

Of course, the above examples would only represent one “move”. Think about the potential for multiple connections, all working in harmony.