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Global Business Leaders Agree: Better Team Collaboration Matters

September 26, 2016 - 4 Comments

I grew up playing the violin. My teacher always asked “If you can’t hum the melody for the song you’re playing, how can you expect to play the song well?”

I’ve found that the same goes for the business world. If you don’t innately understand the products you’re selling, you can’t be completely successful. So it’s no surprise that we’re heavy users of our own stuff in the Cisco Collaboration business. And today, the tools we’re using seem to be more and more team-focused. No, not a group of people in a directory structure, but myriad small groups–from inside and outside the company–that form quickly and move even faster.

Yet, no matter how well you understand your products and their benefits, you sometimes need a little external validation to make sure you’re not just drinking your own champagne. Sure, sales data and analyst reports are important barometers, but there’s nothing like good old-fashioned research.

So we sponsored a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to test a hypothesis: Are other businesses encountering the same collaboration paradigm shift? What are they doing about it?

The report, based on survey responses from more than 300 executives from midsize to large enterprises from around the world, begins by uncovering the key drivers to business success today. The results point to a heavy emphasis on the structure, speed, and nature of teamwork:

  • Over the past two years, nearly 3 of every 4 respondents say that effective team communication has become the most important aspect of collaboration that successfully enables key business imperatives.
  • Meanwhile, the idea of team has morphed to include both internal and external participants, comprising partners, suppliers, topical experts, and customers.

The report continues with a series of insights and recommendations on what business leaders should prioritize to foster optimal collaboration solutions for their teams:

  • Avoid the things that hamper collaboration solution effectiveness, including these top three:
    • Lack of use
    • Lack of integration with business processes
    • Lack of alignment with user workstyles and preferences
  • Seek solutions that are:
    • More efficient, in that they consolidate the most effective solutions and are easy to use
    • Integrated with business processes that coincide with top business imperatives
    • Optimized for mobile devices and work

In addition to survey data, the paper also includes unique first-hand insights. Robert Cross, a management professor at the University of Virginia, shares several anecdotes and perspectives on what can help us make collaboration more efficient. For example:

“High-value workers are very quick to switch to the collaboration tool that’s most effective for the task at hand.”—Robert Cross

The report will help you understand why Cross asserts this point, as well as how other experts and organizations believe collaboration solutions are changing to better serve today’s agile, digital teams.

To net it out:

  • There’s a shift to new types of teams of people inside and outside your organization.
  • These groups are unequivocally critical to your organization’s success.
  • And they are seeking new solutions to keep up.

What do you think about this? Old hat? News? Or perhaps it validates a hunch and now you can learn what to do about it.

Regardless of where you stand, I encourage you to read the report and let us know what you think. There’s no doubt that teams are the lifeblood of your business and are critical to achieving desired business imperatives and staying ahead of your competition. But do your teams have the tools they need to hum to the new tune of modern collaboration?

Download the report and let us know what you think.

Cisco Spark is built for today’s “digital teams” that need to connect, create, and share with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Have you tried Cisco Spark yet?

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  1. Excellent write-up and great points! Flexibility of devices, anytime anywhere access and simplicity put the solution in the background, so that our teams can focus on the task at hand.

    • Marcus, that’s the idea! And it’s now a top mandate for business leaders looking to achieve better results.

  2. While mobile is not a huge part of what I do as an engineer, as I work on a team with colleagues who are more mobile (like my supervisor), it is great to have the same view and same information on my laptop that he sees on his phone.

    • Thanks Benjamin – yes, I can relate. I am often mobile, but I often have to review information and content that peers have created and sent from their laptops. We want everyone on a team to participate fully from wherever they are, and whatever they’re using. As the report mentions, collaboration has to be easy to use and optimized for any device (especially mobile) in order to enable effective teamwork.