Collaboration is what drives innovation and growth inside enterprise organizations. I know it, you know it, and the data shows it. Neilson, for example, has reported collaboration increases creative output and improves concept performance to such a degree that ideas developed by teams of three or more team members have a whopping 156 percent greater appeal with consumers than those created by pairs or individuals. Just what does successful collaboration look like? Let’s look at a few best practices.
But First . . . Why Collaboration?
Effective collaboration expedites decision making, emboldens strategy, and helps organizations motivate and retain leaders who produce results. These truths and Neilson’s numbers—in addition to those reflected in myriad other studies on the benefits of collaboration—are promising. It’s important to note, though, that collaboration does indeed have its challenges, especially when it’s being integrated as a core value throughout a large organization. Why? The structure of teams today is vastly different than it was before brands began undertaking digital transformation initiatives. There’s a sense of interdependency in how things work today (See Figure 1).
Figure 1. Source: Forbes
We can read into this change even deeper than the diagram shows. Enterprise collaboration, for example, has shifted to include new digital tools, a rising remote workforce, and an upswing in millennial leaders. The influx can lead to collaboration overload, but there are certainly ways to make the most of your collaborative initiatives in your business. Let’s discuss a few of them.
Enterprise Collaboration Best Practices
Here are tips and tools to getting the most out of your enterprise collaboration initiatives:
- Help shape collaborative behavior and habits. A recent study by Google for Work and Raconteur found better communication and collaboration among teams most directly impacts company profitability. What opens the door to such a bottom-line boost? It’s simple: Technology. There are a number of tools like project management software, cloud applications, virtual reality, apps, and other technologies businesses are using to change the face of collaboration. The key to successfully leveraging technologies is to find the right one for our organization—one that fits into your culture and drives results. Once selected, focus on educating team members about the tools—including why they need to use them, not just what they do once they log in—and being flexible enough to adjust your strategy along the way if need be.
- Embed collaboration tech into your business processes. Be sure to embed collaborative tech into business operations. This may seem obvious—but, for many, it can be a pain point. Resist the temptation to tout what’s “shiny and interesting” about new collaboration tools when introducing them to teams, focusing instead on their required integration into communication moving forward. Consider building collaboration capabilities into mobile or desktop apps to build a completely customized collaboration experience that streamlines both big-picture processes and day-to-day sharing.
- Organize your collaboration based on teams and topics. You already use segmenting in your marketing automation efforts to better target consumers and organize campaigns*—at least, I hope you do. Why not apply that same mentality to your collaboration efforts? Make it easy for your team to find content or join a conversation by topic or group. There are several platforms that have this capability built in. Slack and Cisco Spark, for instance, are examples of great solutions for businesses of all sizes. Both platforms are rooted in segmentation and easy to use. Then there’s Moxtra, a good solution to integrate into an actual mobile app or enterprise platform (think CRMs, for example) for ultimate collaborative “one-stop-shopping.” In any of these suggestions, personnel can jump in and contribute when they can. If there is an immediate need, of course, it’s always a safe bet to fire up an audio or video call.
Approaching collaboration inside the enterprise can have many moving parts, but it’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor. How does your business approach collaboration? What are your favorite collaboration technologies? Tell me in the comments.
Eric Vidal is the Senior VP of Marketing & Principal at Broadsuite Media Group (BMG), a strategic partner of V3B and The Marketing Scope. Eric heads up the lead generation services for brands both large and small, and is a recognized leader in start-ups, marketing, content marketing, lead generation, advertising, tracking behavior, PR, messaging, social media, online events and web collaboration.