Collaboration Software and the “New Normal”

We saw enterprise collaboration software through a pre-Covid-19 world as an enabler to remotely create our best ideas and refine them together. This was something many organizations were moving toward during their digital transformation journey. Some reasons for investing in collaboration software were due to having distributed team or workforce, or perhaps the need to leverage share with external partners. Now it’s a necessity, because life got weird and many more of us are no longer co-located. This is going to have a broader chain reaction to the way we work, and economic impact to businesses depending on the physical

Over the last few years, collaboration software was viewed as the future of the office. Workers would be able collaborate across the globe in new and innovative ways. Engineer’s could work with field technicians in the field via Augmented Reality software such as PTC’s Vuforia. Office workers could communicate and share ideas through instant Messaging, group chat, and file sharing can be conducted through platforms such as Slack, and Microsoft Teams. Software developers would leverage Github, or Azure DevOps. Teams could be managed through Trello’s Kanban approach, Jira for Agile, or Microsoft Project Server for a more traditional waterfall approach.

These enterprise collaboration tools were successful because they were embedded in the employee’s workflow. They allowed employees to communicate, and turn that communication into something actionable: documents, or records would be generated, shared, and reference able in the future. However, there was always a mindset that this was used to augment in person meetings, and water-cooler brain storming.

There were a few other concepts that were part of the future of the office. A big one was to blur the lines between office and home life. This was fueled by tight employment, the gig economy, and a drive for startups fueled Venture Capital. This could be best exemplified by WeWork. It was the was the next unicorn destined to a killer IPO, until it wasn’t.

And then Covid-19 happened. The pandemic has disrupted the world in so many ways. The human toll has been immense, both from a life and economic standpoint. Covid-19 has accelerated the need for businesses digital transformation. Now we need to virtually share and connect more than ever, and collaboration software is front and center.

Employee’s need to find what they are working on. It used to be enough to peak your head over a cubicle wall, but that might not be an option. Remote collaboration is now a necessity to solve this, and collaboration software plays a big part of that. There is long term productivity loss if remote productivity isn’t solved. Duplicated effort takes place when employees can’t find what they are looking for. This lowers innovation, adds a risk to lower quality, and adds time to delivery products and services.

Things are different now and will be different in the future. Based off recent bankruptcies, such as Hertz, businesses that were vulnerable pre-pandemic will be even more vulnerable. Old institutions such as physical office space and transportation will decline. The need for new ways to work virtually will increase. Digital Transformation will accelerate even further, and collaboration software will player a larger role.

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