Social media has become a fundamental aspect of the modern workplace. Younger generations of employees are increasingly keen to run work and personal lives from the same platforms, and are therefore driving a radical shift in the way work is done. This change refers not only to the increased presence of social networks like Twitter and Facebook at work, but a new 'social' mode of working in which extensive collaboration and communication is the norm. Such an approach was unimaginable in the pre-social media world.
However, while employees are eager to use their own devices and will see no issue in putting platforms and applications from their personal lives into play at work, there is still an onus on employers to select the right collaboration tools and make the most of their workers' social impulse.
In a recent article for Enterpreneur.com, Scott McCool of Polycom noted that it is "up to CIOs to provide employees with the technology they need to be most productive". The CIO or IT director therefore also has a duty to convince his company's board members - if necessary - of the benefits of investing in a cloud collaboration tool.
Education is certainly a worthwhile objective, but garnering real support for collaboration at the top level of your organisation will invariably rely on how successful you are at showing how the technology will benefit the bottom line. Thankfully, there are several ways in which implementing a collaboration tool can translate into attractive numbers that should impress the board:
Strengthening internal relationships
The impact of building stronger relationships between the different departments and various levels of authority in your organisation is multi-faceted: faster decision-making, productivity gains, fewer potentially costly errors and reduced miscommunication.
Improving relationships with customers and external stakeholders
Both commercial and public sector organisations are facing greater pressure to be transparent and accountable to external parties - another by-product of the social media age. Collaboration tools provide a way to open your organisation up to external groups. You can invite them to contribute to online workspaces, where information can be shared securely. The result is increased stakeholder engagement and satisfaction, which will in turn boost your bottom line.
Reducing property and travel costs
A collaboration tool can greatly reduce business travel expenditure because it's easy to bring people from different organisations and locations together via the online workspace. There's no need for a face-to-face meeting when stakeholders can communicate just as effectively using the tool. Online collaboration also supports remote and mobile working, as it can be used on any device, anytime and anywhere.
Attracting fresh talent
A generation of extremely tech-savvy and social-minded people are now entering the workplace. Businesses that can offer the tools such employees expect - and already use in their personal lives - will be able to recruit the very best talent in their industries and safeguard the future of their organisation.
The coming years should see a growing number of organisations using collaboration tools and social technologies in the workplace to help their business expand. Those that choose to embrace cloud collaboration now have a chance to be at the forefront of this shift.