Post by Nader Nanjiani, product and systems marketing manager in Cisco’s Unified Communications business unitandDave Butt, Manager of operations for Cisco’s Unified Communications business unitSimply put, to collaborate is to tap into the expertise of others when performing work. An individual’s expertise on a topic may be limited, but being able to pull in the skills of others, who may be remote, preferably in real time, could improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of our work. Consider for a moment how we work. If we look at the functions we perform within our workspace on a daily basis, we may classify them into four distinct buckets: We devise, we transact, we produce and we interact – in no particular order. Devising relates to all the”figuring things out” stuff that we do at work such as planning, assessing, searching, or strategizing. Transactions, on the other hand, relate to tasks around negotiation, buying, payment processing, ordering, pricing, selling or acquiring. Interaction refers to us talking, conferring or meeting other colleagues for advice, approval, input or guidance. And production refers to creation of content whether that might be documents, deliverables, widgets or services. Technology tools have always had a role, but so far have not permeated through those work buckets.How Might Collaboration Really Play Out at Work? Imagine while processing payroll (a desire to transact), you come up with a question (a desire to interact). To pull away from that transaction session in order to set up a separate communication session in the workspace seems inefficient. But that’s exactly what happens currently. What if the ability to interact in real-time was embedded right into the payroll processing tool? Similarly an individual creating artwork (a desire to produce) should be able to seek input (a desire to interact) on her in-progress masterpiece from a mentors or colleagues -no matter how remote they maybe -in real time without having to interrupt the creative process. Unified Communications Leads to CollaborationUnified communications embeds real time communications capabilities such as voice, mobility, video, instant messaging, web-based conferencing, presence, and federation within our day to day tasks -thereby making possible substantial increase in productivity. As unified communications permeate through all aspects of work and are pervasive across all types of workspace devices, we stand to unlock the full potential of collaboration. As seamless sharing of communications becomes more prevalent while devising, transacting, interacting or producing, without the risk of delays, more of us will choose to collaborate. Preparing Today’s Workspaces for CollaborationA workspace could best be described as any location where collaboration tools are readily available. Workspace today is more a concept of time rather than place. We can distinguish our daily life into working or non-working moments. Irrespective of whether those moments occur while waiting at the theater box-office or lounging at the swimming pool. What distinguishes work from non-work is not so much the location but the predisposition of the individual. If a worker completes a conference call while at their child’s soccer practice, the soccer field would constitute the workspace for that moment in time. Moving from a desktop centric notion of workspace to a user centric notion of the workspace might be the first step towards building an environment for collaboration. So instead of seeking to load resources on the desktop, organizations will need to find ways to make those resources available to individual workers in multiple workspaces over multiple devices to allow those resources to follow them. As work resources follow individuals everywhere and as individuals find individuals, instead of devices, every time, unified communications will have delivered on the promise of collaboration.