How collaboration apps foster digital transformation

Popular collaboration tools are helping Accenture, Autodesk and others save money, increase efficiency, drive innovation and improve communication throughout their organizations.

Throughout enterprises large and small, collaboration apps and services are breaking down silos, connecting colleagues in more effective ways and resulting in stronger employee engagement. These tools are enabling companies to transition to a purely digital world and transform business operations with relative ease.

The collaboration category is of increasingly keen interest today as enterprises seek out every competitive advantage and method to cut costs, improve communications and reduce points of friction throughout their organizations. There are many flavors of collaboration tools in the enterprise today, including group-chat apps, shared work areas, videoconferencing services, web meeting platforms, group task-management apps, and more.

While interest in this space grows, so too does the number of vendors that hope to become leading collaboration providers in the modern workforce, but there’s room for many to succeed. “Collaboration is many things to many people, and since needs can be very different, there’s no one leading product, no silver bullet to improve collaboration in every scenario,” says Adam Preset, senior director analyst of digital workplace engagement at Gartner.

Text-chat-based apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are receiving much of the attention in the collaboration space, but they are also among the most rudimentary or limited tools on the market today. “The immediacy of chat-based apps is compelling because workers want to share information and make decisions faster,” Preset says. While instant messaging has been around for decades, consumer messaging services like SMS, iMessage and WhatsApp have made people more comfortable with using chat everywhere, including their place of work, according to Preset.

What makes collaboration apps such a critical component of the enterprise today? “The conversation element is the glue that holds together other collaborative elements, such as shared files, meetings, or tasks and processes,” Preset says. “We can’t overstate the importance of persistence, of always being able to go back to reread a message thread, of being able to spin up a quick meeting with the same teammates easily, and to have all our files for one team or one project in one place.”

To gain a deeper understanding of the collaboration space, Computerworld spoke with IT leaders at four organizations that have achieved varying degrees of digital transformation by embracing these tools. No two companies are the same, and neither are the experiences that businesses have with these tools.

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