It's becoming a familiar scene in companies of all sizes: A team works closely together, jumping from instant messages to video conferences to over-the-phone meetings. They collaborate and accomplish goals side-by-side every day -- without ever actually meeting face-to-face.
Real-time collaboration tools not only connect teams more effectively, but also provide considerable cost savings to your organization.
As a result, IT managers are increasingly recognizing the need for real-time collaboration among team members -- no matter their location. "The value of collaborating is about community. You have to be where people are to make it work," says Jon Arnold, an analyst and principal of J Arnold & Associates.
According to Ted Schadler of Forrester Research Inc., what’s driving the need is the growing trend of distributed organizations, the rising number of remote workers, and the upsurge of business-to-business teams.
Here's what experts say you need to know about real-time collaboration tools and best practices for implementation:
1. Know the real-time collaboration tool landscape.
When it comes to real-time collaboration tools, the theme is "synchronous." Tools need to allow teams to truly communicate in real time. Among the real-time technologies becoming mainstays in many organizations are:
IM has grown beyond chat. Now, employees can send each other files without size limits, switch into video chatting or create a live conference with multiple co-workers on the spot
Employees can now stay seamlessly connected to their team via email, texting, document sharing and calls -- all on their smartphones
These tools allow teams to actually see each other’s desktops at the same time. Some services even let you take control of someone else’s desktop, making it easy to work on projects at the same time, on the same screen
The entire group can share a common sketchpad, easy for sharing ideas and files on a blank canvas
Telepresence or Web conferencing.
Emerging telepresence tools create the illusion of teams interacting in the same room, even when they are miles apart. Webcams that enable one-on-one video conferencing also fall into this category. Many programs now offer recording features too, which are useful to play back later to note explicit directions and follow up with others
2. Know how tools solve common problems.
All teams don't need all real-time communication tools. And each communication tool does not need to have all the above features. The key is to offer and support the right mix that increases productivity (and ideally lowers costs) without creating distractions. "Look at key processes that can be improved by real-time collaboration," says Smith. "Maybe it's customer service -- like you can speed up the time it takes to answer clients.”
3. Know who is driving virtual collaboration.
Forrester recommends taking stock of so-called "alpha collaborators," or employees who are already using collaboration tools. “They are your greatest resource for identifying new tools, driving adoption and testing new scenarios," reports Forrester.
For employees, the expectations for real-time collaboration tools will only continue to expand. “People are living with these tools in their personal life,” says Arnold. “And they are bringing those expectations to the workplace."
Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/alexsl
IT Insider is a daily editorial resource offering innovative insights and strategies for building an integrated, secure and resilient IT infrastructure.
Available at Amazon.com:
- The Great E-reader Roundup
- The NFL's Highest-scoring Apps
- New Gadgets Straight From the Big Screen
- A Game Plan for Protecting Stored Data
- The Drive for Real-time Collaboration
- Hang Onto People Who'll Help You Advance
- Leading New Developments in Visual Computing
- Meet Mr. Industrial: Justin Lassen's Music Machine
- Must-see TV on the Internet
- Share Safely on Social Networks
- 6 Essential Rules for Safe Online Shopping
- Five Steps to Kid-friendly Surfing
- High-tech Help for Weight Loss
- Create a Web Site or Blog for Your Family
- Video Eyewear for Sunglass Cinema
- Smart Phone Apps Help Stop Distracted Driving
- Online Computer Backup Services Remove Hassle
- Cut Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money With New Gadgets
- The 25 Best Apps for iPads, iPhones and Droids
- Government Takes a Step Toward Cloud Computing
- Is Our Obsession With Internet-Based Media Veering Into Addiction?
- Stop Information Overload
- Cool Technology Tools for a Carefree Life
- Apple iPhone versus Google Android
- Apple Enters Rental Biz
- Cool Technology and Gadgets for Hot Summer Fun
- Smart Tools For a Paperless Home
- Formspring.me - Teens' Ugly Scrawlings Go High Tech
- Guide to Great Educational Websites for Kids
- 5 Social Media Tools for College Students
- 5 Do's and Don'ts for College Students Using Social Media
- Is Facebook Killing Your Mojo?
- Internet Safety Tips for Teens
- 10 Cool Gadget Gifts for Grads
- New DVR Recorders Do More Than Record TV
- 4G Networks Promise True Wireless Broadband
- Tools That Make it Easy to Network Home PCs
- GPS: Cool Devices That Know Where They Are
- Ultimate HDTV HD Television Buying Guide
- How to Save With Cutting-Edge Tech
- Suddenly Instant Photos Are Everywhere
- Technology Opens Doors for Investors
- The Art of Self-Marketing Online
- Is Your Next Job a Click Away?
- Archiving Twitter Tweets: Dumbing Down Journalism
- These Financial Blogs Are Worth Your Time
- iPad Launch: Perils of the iPad
- iPad Launch: What Buyers Need to Know
- Apple's iPad: 5 Reasons Why the Apple Tablet Will Flop
- Apple's iPad: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- 'Dotcom' Turns 25: Predictions for What Comes Next
- Costly Incompatible Glasses Threaten 3D TV Sales
- Mobile Tech That Stole the Decade
- The Biggest Technology Flops of the Decade
- M.B.A. Programs Are Biting Apple's iPad
- Democracy in Cyberspace
- The Digital Disruption
- Bashing Bosses on Social Media
- New Applications Turning Cell Phones Into Medical Devices
- Job Hunting With Smart Phones
- Nobel Winner Right About Risks of e-Books
Copyright © 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.