Over the past few decades, globalisation has aided many business operations worldwide, especially those with offices and clients on different continents. While many professionals still believe that face-to-face interactions play an important role in doing business, globalisation has made it difficult to have in-person meetings for every collaborative project. This can negatively impact productivity, especially when companies have employees across the country, continent or globe.
As a result, businesses are discovering the ease and convenience of online collaboration tools rather than holding in-person face-to-face meetings with clients or colleagues. A survey conducted by PGi in 2017 reinforced this by revealing 88 per cent of industry professionals used online collaboration tools at least once a week. Online conversations and meetings are clearly replacing traditional face-to-face consultations, especially when they would have had to otherwise re-schedule.
The dynamic rise of online collaboration
This software market is growing at an astonishing rate. According to Global Market Insights, the collaboration software market size will grow by 13 per cent CAGR from 2016 to 2024 and will exceed $8.5 billion by 2024. Slack, a start-up online collaboration company which targets businesses rather than individuals, is a prime example of the growth the market is experiencing, with an initial 268k daily users growing to 4 million from 2014 to 2016. Skype, a long-standing player, records more than 300 million users, an increase of 196 million users since its Microsoft takeover in 2010.
The benefits of online collaboration tools
Travelling to and from distant meetings and working on projects with different clients or colleagues who are not within the same country can be challenging and very expensive. When compared to flying, phone calls are a cheaper option, but still remain expensive due to high international call rates. Emailing also has its limits, especially in terms of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. However, online collaboration optimises productivity, offering screen sharing functions and enabling businesses and clients to edit documents simultaneously while on a call. It also increases efficiency by saving money and time, thereby allowing organisations to invest in other areas of the business.
Another benefit provided by online collaboration is the opportunity of telecommuting. Using online collaboration software, companies are able to attract employees from other countries, bringing new skills and knowledge to their business. It can also assist in retaining existing workers by improving benefits and perks, as employees are able to work from home, thereby boosting employee productivity through improving their work life balance. A service that allows for true remote collaboration can improve performance greatly by having quicker meetings, happier clients, no travel time or costs, and an increased budget for other projects. Thus, allowing companies to become more competitive and to ultimately outgrow their competitors.
How does enterprises use online collaboration tools?
Take Mercedes-Benz USA for example. The company uses audio integrated collaboration software for virtual training on monthly engineering service calls, hosting shop foremen and service managers across the country in one single seminar. This has enabled Mercedes-Benz to keep information flowing at a fast pace in order to keep up with the industry.
Once new tools and processes that allow for online collaboration across multiple platforms are implemented, companies are likely to see a 20-30 per cent improvement in productivity, according to McKinsey Consultants.
Online technology is a critical element of how industry will progress and represents the sort of change businesses need to go through in order to remain competitive.
The benefits of online collaborative tools are increasing and companies need to consider ways to implement them so as to improve their business operations. Possible applications could include recruitment, innovative customer service support or simply new ways through which employees can collaborate.