Real-Time Collaboration Helps Optimize the Performance of a Distributed Workforce
Do you ever feel frustrated when you just cannot access the right information right when you need it? Or when you spend several hours chasing multiple sources, verifying if something is accurate or not when you have urgent issues to resolve? Well, now imagine this scenario in a business environment where your personal performance or the performance of your team is affected with these exact same challenges every day. And then imagine situations where you may miss the boat on closing a very important deal, resolving an urgent, technical customer issue, or misinterpreting data for an important report, because of all these communication barriers.
When we access information in a static, asynchronous environment, we have several dependencies, factors, variables, and therefore a higher chance of error. Our inability to verify data instantaneously, and having no version control in place, can make collaboration in a business environment quite challenging. Imagine an employee trying to verify if the document that was emailed to him or her on a specific date is indeed the latest and greatest version. Then imagine the string of email communications to various colleagues in order to confirm if the version he or she has, is indeed accurate. Let’s keep this story going; now those peers are going through all of their email records to confirm when the last version was sent and then keeping their fingers crossed that if the document changed, someone, somewhere has saved or shared a copy of it with another peer. This email chain has unnecessarily flooded several inboxes and the amount of time employees have spent reading and deleting each message, could likely have been better spent closing an important deal, working on a critical report, or solving a high priority customer issue.
One such company that was experiencing similar information reliability and collaboration challenges is avodaqAG. avodaq strives to optimize the performance of various project teams which are distributed across multiple locations. Their offices are scattered across Germany and Singapore, hence their main business challenge and priority becomes empowering a virtual workforce with the right tools to solve customer issues and address their urgent needs in a timely manner.
“We didn’t have a good way to make sure everyone on a virtual team had access to all of the relevant files and information pertaining to a project,” says Andreas Kusch, chief executive officer for avodaq. Instead, documents and information tended to be scattered across multiple offices and team members’ hard drives, making it difficult to find all information pertinent to a particular project. “We realized that an enterprise collaboration platform with social networking features would help employees find information and expertise more quickly, maximizing team performance while further increasing customer satisfaction,” Kusch says.
Cisco WebEx Social allowed avodaq to create online social communities where the employees could share and post information instantly, and collaborate real time via discussion forums, wikis, and blogs to confirm the accuracy of that information. Additionally, Cisco WebEx Social empowered avodaq with an improved content management process, since now the employees could store and share documents in a synchronous environment. This also helped them to achieve version control and not waste time chasing information down to verify the accuracy of it. Moreover, the tagging and search features of Cisco WebEx Social enabled employees to find experts more efficiently and as a result, solve problems quicker.
Once the experts were found, avodaq used Cisco Jabber to quickly connect with them real-time, whether via Jabber for Windows, Jabber for iPad, or Jabber for iPhone. The Cisco WebEx Social environment allows employees to launch Jabber with a single click, and have instant messaging conversations to escalate decisions, and reach solutions faster. avodaq also uses Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, which can be launched instantly in the Cisco WebEx Social environment. The meeting recording feature was especially useful for the workers so they could document their meetings, and share the recording, notes, and data later with those unable to attend the meeting.
The combination and ultimately, the implementation of all these various real-time collaboration tools and solutions proved highly beneficial for avodaq. The results speak for themselves. Kusch notes that he was able to drastically reduce travel by eliminating 100 trips annually, saving the company an estimated $100,000 without sacrificing the in-person experience. Additionally, avodaq saw a great improvement in their response time to customers, because now their distributed workforce had faster access to experts and information.
To learn more about avodaq’s successful results, I encourage you to read the case study.