I am a convert. Not convict, convert. A year ago if you told me that I would work all day from within one collaboration app would have said “No thanks.”
But today I can’t live without it. As a Solutions Architect, my job requires constant communication with my peers, customers and business partners. I am the technical guru that connects the practical application of our technology to my customer’s business requirements. Without me, things would go south real fast, or at least that’s what I tell myself. All kidding aside, I am up for any app that can make me more productive, improve customer satisfaction and make my life easier. I started using an Alpha version of our soon to be released collaboration app a while ago and it has transformed my workday. To put things into perspective, I have increased my ability to gather and share knowledge, significantly improved my availability to my stakeholders, improved my visibility within both my organization and with my customers, and become much more efficient with my time. How does a collaboration app make all that happen? First of all, it is persistent, allows me to work in the tools and applications that I use all the time seamlessly and it enables real-time interaction with the people I need to get the job done.
Here is how it works. A team collaboration app that creates a virtual communications workspace where your tools, applications and information are natively available. It then brings together your stakeholders, both internally and externally, allowing real-time interaction and communication on an ad-hoc or structured basis. Let’s break this down into a more tangible discussion. Bringing together chat, voice, video, desktop sharing and presence is nothing new, however, overlaying the other elements such as commonly used applications such as Zendesk for support or Jira for software development into workspaces that are collaboration enabled makes it easier for individuals and groups to interact and get real work done. Bring in your preferred file sharing and storage app like Box or Google Drive and you have all the tools and information available to collaborate. It eliminates the need to “communications enable” those applications for the purpose of collaborating. I am not suggesting that there may not be a need to chat or “click to call” from within these applications but doing so is a siloed approach requiring each and every application to be individually communications enabled. It also introduces complexity depending on what the underlying comms platform is. With our approach, any application is communication enabled from within the workspace. Bingo!
To take this further, I’ll walk through a typical day in my life below describing how I use our new collaboration system. Before running through my day, here is a little more context to help it make sense. The app is meant to run all day like your browser or email so you don’t start and stop it. You effectively hang out in it all day using it as your chat, phone, web and video app. Set up of the workspace environments will be done initially before you install the app. I can customize my own virtual workspace to automatically include my go-to apps and team rooms can be configured the same way. I control my availability during the day through my presence status, which is also customizable. During a recent snow storm that kept most folks out of the HQ office I noticed quite a few “Due to blizzard, working from home” status. When you are working in another app like Google Docs or dotproject, the apps are open right in my workspace making it easy to share if I need to consult with someone on a project or proposal. So let’s get started.
A day in the life of an SA:
8:05 am Power up the laptop and get connected to my team collaboration app.
8:10 am Immediately join our support team meeting room where all the support and solutions guys hang out. Sometimes it's quiet and sometimes it’s crazy but it’s all good.
8:13 am I notice the Seth has finally trimmed that beard, sometimes a distraction but never a problem.
8:15 am To join in I simply “turn myself up” when there’s an issue that involves me or when I want to throw something out to the team. ( I like to go incognito when I am not participating). BTW, the support room has embedded Zendesk and Jira app tabs as we work on tickets and review updates a lot.
8:37 am From the app’s roster, I have visibility to everyone in the company including the Dev guys. If I need information from a developer, I check their presence status to see if they are available and send them a quick chat and await a response. If the answer gets complicated they just jump into the workspace I’m in and boom, problem solved.
8:45 am The meeting ends and I jump out ready to take on my next challenge of the day hanging in my room attending to business.
9:05 am I get chatted up to join a few sales guys for a free lunch, you know those sales guys, there must be a catch right. Respond “I’m in” and I pull up email from my Gmail app tab and go about getting back to folks the old fashioned way because some people don’t use real collaboration tools like mine.
10:59 am I get an invite to join in on a major account discussion about to kick off in the sales war room so I jump on in. The best part about this app is that everything is instantaneous, like “Beam me up Scotty”, cool stuff.
11:12 am During that meeting, I get a phone call in from our corporate phone system (ours just happens to be eZuce’s Uniteme, but it could be any SIP system). Can you believe people still use phone systems? Got to maintain that corporate identity you know! Best part is the call privately connects in my app so no need to leave or mute out. I take the call and it's one of my IT contacts at the account. Talk about good timing! After explaining his issue, I bring his call right into the discussion with the rest of the team and he gets TLC overload. Very happy camper and he hangs up. Being able to bring a voice or video call into this app is awesome, so sweet.
11:27 am Say what, meeting over, and I'm back to my room just hangin out working on other projects.
11:35 am On the company-wide chat, it looks like there is a movement to get a putting contest together after work in the corporate HQ, those guys are so bush league. Anyway, going to jump back in the support room, it looks like a crowd is gathering must be a severity 1 customer issue to get all that attention. Beam me up!
11:37 am I materialize into the room just as someone asks a real tough SBC question which I brilliantly have the answer to. There are more probing questions and I pop open the admin portal on a Frafos SBC from my desktop, share my screen with the rest of the team and show them how I have it configured. Bang, instant admiration, my net team worth just tripled.
11:58 am About to take the sales guys up on the free lunch so I am going to set my status as “out to Free Lunch” before heading out.
12:45 pm Was not such a great lunch a had three calls forward out to my cell and I had to jump into a meeting on my Droid using the app. Great Wi-Fi at the burger joint they took me to. I wonder why I never get the invites to that steak house around the corner, only the burger joint?
12:57 pm Back at my desk, by the way did I mention I work remote office style from my home? I had to clean up the place when I started using “visual collaboration” and I now have a proper collared shirt (no one said I couldn’t wear shorts). The sacrifice that being seen brings on oneself.
The rest of the afternoon looks busy but I will take some private time to work on a proposal, I can chat back to anyone in desperate need of my real-time attention. I think you get the picture (no pun intended) of how connected I am and what a difference this new has made in my work process. It provides me with a “virtual office” environment whereby it's as if I'm sitting next to everyone and can just ask them a question on the fly, chat about their response, share information with others, etc. Communication is real time and substantially more effective. As an interesting and positive side effect, my communication amongst my coworkers is more personal, leading me to feel like a part of the team and more connected with my colleagues even though I live in the back woods of Wisconsin.
Funny thing is despite some of the hardships, like collared shirts, I don't want to lose my new collaboration app. I am loving the way I get things done now and I have to say it has made my life easier!
Interested in learning more about our video collaboration app?