In the constantly connected business world, teams and modes of communication increasingly involve a mish-mash of participants. Work is done across various teams, and real time communication with clients and partners outside the company in a secure and persistent workspace is ever more important to business goals. Information is shared through a variety of communications and file sharing platforms – email, instant messaging, conferencing, text, cloud-based file sharing, etc. While this may offer faster communication, it also leads to scatter, broken continuity and information leakage.
We spoke with Pankaj Taneja, Marketing Director from HyperOffice, a provider of cloud-based collaboration and communications solutions, to discuss the challenges in business communication posed by these varied workgroups and tools. We also asked what businesses should look for in tools to help them better manage cross-team, cross-functional and cross-organization communication and collaboration.
Q: We talk about today’s business communication being plagued by “scatter,” “broken continuity” and “information leakage.” Can you clarify what that means and why it’s bad for businesses?
A: Scatter in this context means an incoherent mix of communications and collaboration tools used by business – email, chat, video conferencing, etc. The idea is that while these myriad tools, are convenient for the task at hand, the tread is lost as we jump from tool to tool, and it is hard for business documents and information to be universally shared and managed. This leads to broken continuity. We’ve all been here. We send an email with edits to a document around to a group of people and someone ends up responding to an outdated version because they are the last to read their email. We hop on a video conference, and there’s no context around what happened before the meeting, and what will follow. Broken continuity can lead to errors or cost valuable time and effort to keep everyone on the same page. Information leakage is especially hazardous in organizations where privacy is critical (law firms, medical facilities, etc.). Again, the fear here is that information that should not be shared outside a closed group is easily sent – via text, instant message, etc. – to in error. Without a universal platform or approved methodology, these issues are likely to arise in any business.
Q: Does this problem extend to interactions with external stakeholders as well?
A. The problem there is slightly different. It’s a well-known fact that companies which offer the best customer service or integrate operations with their partners and vendors are the most successful today. Now, these external stakeholders have their own tools, and businesses have their own, which don’t talk to each other. As a result, everyone just falls back on emails and phone calls. Not the most efficient or transparent way to operate in the 21st century.
Q: So what is a solution to this problem? Do companies need to pick one approved mode of communication – email for example – and only conduct business through that one vehicle? No more business communications through video chat or text message?
A: Well, I’m not sure that’s possible in the 21st century business environment. I think businesses need a team communications solution intended to augment existing tools rather than replace them. The answer is not a solution that has been designed to serve a homogenous environment within organizations, but rather one that allows team members across multiple organizations to share information stored in their favorite applications while communicating across multiple channels. Doing this creates a streamlined unified work flow and efficiency of task completion.
Q: So what should businesses look for in this type of solution?
A: I think there are few critical features any application of this type needs to have in order to be effective and efficient for the business. For starters, it has to be “mobile first.” Too much business is done over mobile platforms; a communications tool must live and operate in the mobile environment. Additionally, it has to be cloud-based. Business teams are not just internal to one organization; they include partners, customers, others in the industry, etc. A communications tool must live outside the firewall to allow for information sharing and management by multiple parties. And if the solution is cloud-based, security is important. Communication and collaboration applications should require two-factor authorization. Finally, and this goes back to your previous question, a business communications and collaboration solution must integrate with other applications. Again, it’s impossible to limit communication or information sharing to a single application or communications model. Integration across multiple applications is necessary.
HyperOffice is a Verizon Partner Program member under the ASRS program. Under this agreement, Verizon promotes HyperOffice’s Share.to, a multi modal team communications solution to enable key processes across verticals.