This past year was difficult for many organizations, but they persevered and kept the business running thanks to collaboration tools that many became intimately familiar with over the course of 2020.
According to Gartner, 82% of companies are planning to allow for at least some remote work going forward. As organizations prepare for a hybrid workforce in which employees are given the option of on-premise or remote work, the collaboration tech industry is adapting to meet those dynamic demands of businesses everywhere.
Let’s look at these growing trends and how they can impact your organization as the world economy begins to adapt to yet another “normal.”
Video and audio quality remain critical for technology parity
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Webex and other videoconferencing platforms quickly became one of the most important pieces of technology to your business. With COVID-19 restrictions preventing regular face-to-face meetings, the world migrated to video in massive numbers.
For many remote workers, it quickly became clear that most of the built-in cameras and microphones in laptops and other endpoints just weren’t going to cut it. A quick search of online marketplaces for these devices in March and April confirmed just how much demand there were for better quality video and audio devices.
Companies are also doubling down on their conference room systems which boast the highest quality video and audio quality available, which makes investing in endpoints and peripheral devices for remote workers even more important to ensure a consistent work experience regardless of where the employee is.
Deeper integrations will create more seamless workflows
The two main team collaboration providers linked to a larger suite of workplace tools – Google Workplace and Microsoft 365 – are both planning deeper integrations between collaboration and other workplace tools that aim to create seamless workflows.
In 2020, we saw these companies and others begin to realize that organizations spend their day nose deep in these platforms and are making it easier to work between different apps and services.
We can expect to see even deeper integrations between collaboration tools like video, chat, file sharing, email and more.
Asynchronous collaboration will help enable hybrid work
Videoconferencing tools grabbed everyone’s attention at the start of the pandemic, but they’re largely only useful when everyone is one the call at the same time.
However, remote work is allowing companies to tap into a more diverse global talent pool and hire employees from many different time zones, and asking someone on the other side of the globe to join a video call in the middle of the night should be out of the question. As we found out during 2020, employees aren’t always available at the same time when they’re working from home.
Asynchronous collaboration is a way to ensure everyone is up to date on projects and feels included, regardless of where they’re working.
Rather than an all-hands team meeting, managers could instead ask employees to record a short video of themselves going over their plans for the day or week. This also encourages employees who tend to stay quiet during large meetings to speak up and share their ideas.
Many of us were already using file sharing platforms before, which is itself a form of asynchronous collaboration.
Artificial intelligence will make our lives easier
Artificial intelligence (AI) has applications in nearly every part of the workplace, including collaboration.
We saw this play out a bit in 2020 with the use of virtual backgrounds for video calls and eventually noise-reduction technology that providers built into their video platforms that used intelligent technology and natural language processing to filer out unwanted noise.
To accommodate remote workers in different time zones, we’re also seeing a movement towards intelligent meeting notes and transcription services so those employees can be filled in on a meeting they may have missed.
Security must be prioritized
The past year saw organizations accelerate their digital transformation by at least a few years, and in the mad rush to equip employees with the tools they needed to transition to remote work in the matter of a few days, security may not have been top of mind.
Unfortunately, that reared its head in a few ugly ways, as some collaboration providers made headlines for their sub-par cybersecurity controls.
Cyber criminals are smart and are usually a few steps ahead of the tech industry and change their attack methods to target victims where they are. In this case that is cloud-based unified communications platforms.
When selecting vendors and deploying tools, cybersecurity must be baked into every decision.