Can we find middle ground? The role of tech in bringing people together

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Cat Mules

The Cloud is influencing new means of interfacing, integrating and collaborating. Strengthening relationships with your team in this new world is a whole different kettle of fish. Here’s some background.

Salim Ismail, past Yahoo! innovator and founder of the Singularity Universitysays, when assessing a start-up for funding investors are quick to ask will it work and will people buy the product? There is a third linked area of risk: is the team able to communicate and pivot as needed?

Business is moving away from hierarchical patterns of interaction. With near zero costs of communication tools and apps enabling all companies, from the community-based to the virtual, to engage in nimble and extensible communication.

What’s possible has changed at exponential speeds in recent years. Voice and camera led interaction is changing how we engage with technologies, making our experience of engaging virtually much faster, more personal, more accessible and more intuitive.

Where technology and people intersect, organisational designs are more dynamic, more collaborative and more open to change. Departments can easily come together, understand and align with the processes and goals of others, and exchange ideas.

Strengthening relationships and collaborative processes within your team is now a whole different ball game – with powerful new technological tools. Here are some tips. 

1. Using customer relations management tools (CRMs)

CRMs are the mainstay of modern organisations, but their value is not limited to external communication. Employees are customers too and CRMs serve a powerful purpose in streamlining data. A good CRM should consolidate customer data and integrate well with other apps that make it easy for employees to collaborate. CRMs like  Salesforce, Sugar, SAP and Microsoft are increasingly automating the informational aspect of customer interactions.

Salesforce has reached international success with its powerful customer base and Cloud-based applications for diverse industries and needs. / ISDI CRM.

Each team has unique functions and goals, so apps should be tailored to their needs. However evolving CRMs have integrative capabilities – which are being developed more and more that are working towards breaking down internal silos. 

2. Gamifying interaction

 Gamification or incentive competitions are useful forms of internal motivation. It’s not just customers who might be interested in loyalty or frequent flyer programmes. A traditional example of this is the award for salesperson of the month – but it can extend far beyond this. New Zealand fleet performance innovator, EROAD for example, holds internal incentive competitions and hackathons – based on the understanding that “Ideas can come from anywhere”. A nimble style is established, with small working teams in an open, non-defensive environment, and staff able to focus on their preferred area. There’s a formal pitching session where ideas are formed. These ideas are then entered into either the commercial workflow or taken as learning opportunities. 

3. Webinars and podcasts for horizontal communication

Company webinars and podcasts are standard tools for interaction in many organisations – and it’s not just the top bosses who’ll use them to communicate company messages. Internal teams might find it productive to engage with each other with video blogs, a day-in-the-life, or conversation about areas of specialisation. Entrepreneur and Forbes contributor, Chris Cancialosi, explains that podcasts are new ways to engage with your employees – helping them connect with information, offer practical advice, and making leadership messages more accessible. 

Podcasts from Beef + Lamb New Zealand enable internal updates and insights within the agriculture community. /

 4. Group building via social media

Arguably one of the most important forms of information sharing media in today’s information economy is social media. Can it really be a help rather than a hindrance to your workplace?  There is no doubt that social media can consume a lot of time in the work day.

The average worldwide social media usage is two hours 24 minutes per day – equating to 5.7 years 2,080 days, a number that’s increasing year on year. But it is not all negative. Social media has team building potential. Mission-driven companies like Kelly Tarlton use internal social media groups to distribute video messages about their cause and to connect with their team.  In today’s world of remote, off-site working, some employees will relish the chance to engage with content they care about alongside their colleagues.

5. Using project management tools

Ask any agile team leader and you’ll likely hear about a favourite project management tool – there is widespread agreement that all cross-functional teams benefit greatly from having a project management system in place. It is important to be aware that there are a whole raft of tailored project management tools available depending on organisational roles and goals. In terms of bridging silos and enhancing team collaboration, some tools have benefits over others. For most, the degree of integration with other popular apps, a simple interface and ease of use are top priorities.

Cloud-based workspaces empower employees to effectively collaborate with each other on specific projects, without the benefit of many interpersonal non-verbal cues.  These features make team communication more robust, aligned and convenient.

Most organisational strategies are enabled by the Cloud. Cloud communications apps can be integrated seamlessly with web browsers and email programs, leading to improved internal file sharing, with faster handoffs and response rates. There is no longer the need to spend time shuffling files and folders – they are there already instantly available.

There is no doubt that  horizontal peer-to-peer communication is rapidly being recognised as essential for innovation. Breaking down communication silos has long been a challenge – and powerful possibilities are emerging. The Cloud is influencing new means of interfacing, integrating and collaborating.

But a final word of advice: regularly check in with team members about their preferred working and communication patterns. Aligning product and process includes being sensitive to your team’s preferred communication styles.

Discover more:

Salesforce Live: How to create a high-performing digital team

Six steps to success: Using CMS to ‘get personal’

What is a CMS and why does your website need one?

Creating a culture of change with agile

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

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