The Intangible Productivity Benefits of Cloud Collaboration

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Sonja Rachbauer

The digital workplace has gone from being a mere option into becoming an essential for most businesses of this generation.

The need to engage and align with the rest of the organization — even during minor interruptions like work trips, days off, medical leave, or major disruptions like personal crises, resignations, or natural disasters — means we cannot avoid the use of technology in daily business operations. In Asia Pacific, a recent survey reported that 80% of respondents (employees) want their employers to step up by offering more training in new technologies. 

IDC also reported that the Asia Pacific spend on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of business practices, products, and organizations was estimated to be USD 375.8 Billion in 2019. It is also expected to steadily expand throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period, achieving a five-year compound annual growth rate of 17.4%. 

Ultimately, the path to digital transformation continues to drive businesses to digitize processes and operations, empowering employees to communicate, collaborate, and produce with agility. 

What moves businesses to the cloud?

As organizations in the region become more mature, and more companies in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia offer flexible working arrangements to their employees, there is an obvious increase in focus on applying innovative solutions to support the changing nature of work.

The businesses looking to grow and expand across regions will encounter obstacles such as time zones and geographical differences. Not only are these significant barriers to local reporting work, but they also deter the regional teams from building depth in the project content that are currently being worked on. When collaboration phases are not kept contextual, it spells more problems for project managers when more time needs to be spent diagnosing choke points in the workflow.

Fortunately, the proliferation of cloud computing today has helped smaller businesses combat scattered collaboration. Besides obvious benefits such as quick access and sharing of files, constructing workflow rules for automating tasks is useful in making sure document owners and members avoid missing out on important project phases conditional for triggering and mobilizing the next set of action.

Ultimately, the cloud has reinvented new ways of empowering employees to communicate, collaborate, and produce with agility.

What happens behind the cloud?

Today, organizations are turning to available tools that take advantage of cloud computing. Cloud computing isn’t as new as it seems and is popular among businesses of all types and sizes. In fact, cloud comes as a boon to relatively smaller organizations whose employees work from home and collaborate online.

Accessing work remotely does not mean that employees can no longer connect with their colleagues' expertise.  On the contrary, inputs are better registered in real time, allowing collaborative work to be picked up instantaneously. And in situations where a less technically savvy individual encounters hiccups, they can take advantage of remote troubleshooting assistance, making the cloud a versatile platform for just about any kind of work. Any device that has internet connectivity is all it takes to have access to the organization’s data.

More importantly, there are no pointless copies of the same data. All the data resides in one central location, and every user is served from there, wherever they have access. There are of course precautionary backups, but the host handles it all.

The mobility of data in an organization can be managed in a highly controlled and safe mode, allowing businesses to use collaborative technologies to reduce and avoid costs, accelerate time to market, and transform entire industries. 

Collaboration in scenario

As more people interact, the organization enjoys more benefits of collaboration.

Take writing content for customers as an example. The process involves employees who specialize in ideation, writing, SEO marketing, editing, graphic design and more. In some cases, product specialists may also be enlisted into the process, adding on complications to how the collaboration work should be arranged.

Also, because each contribution takes certain hours for completion before being passed on, the delay here can potentially snowball, especially if constant interaction is missing. By the time the contribution reaches the SEO expert, the entire process has to be error free, for a missing attachment in a mail can significantly change the momentum. This inevitably pushes the cycle back to where it was previously, again eating into intangibles like admin time.

As such scenarios are commonly seen in a more traditional business set up, working on projects across departments tend to anticipate more delays. As volume of tasks grows online, collaborators lose sight on the priority level of each task, eventually also losing out on the critical moments to create the best intended outcome.

A modern collaboration format, what used to be a sequential and slow approach has now allowed for professionals of diverse backgrounds to contribute at any given stage, saving time and not exhausting meeting hours.

Giving employees fast access to the company's information, connections, and resources empowers them and allows them to further excel in their job roles. Readily available resources include functionalities ranging from intelligent search and personalized action items, to social collaboration and self-service tools.

More than the savings

The new age of collaboration has proven to deliver tremendous gains to businesses. One way to measure its results is by cost savings, but many companies also realize significant productivity gains through business collaboration. Effective collaboration can improve the product development process, take time out of the sales cycle, or reduce the time required in creating marketing content.

In an era of dispersed teams and reduced travel budgets, it is difficult to build trusted relationships with customers, partners, and even colleagues. Private social networks, audio and web conferences, team spaces, on-demand videos, chat and HR apps that track timesheets help us overcome the limitations of distance and time zones. Indeed, effective use of these collaboration tools has become essential to business success.

Gibu Mathew, vice president and general manager for APAC at Zoho Corp. authored this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/Sonja Rachbauer