When Greek philosopher Aristotle stated that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ more than two millennia ago, he could have had little idea how the notion would be employed in today’s workplaces, with teams coming together to work on projects and achieving results far beyond those possible without collaboration.
My role is to help our customers get the most from collaboration technology – Webex Teams. Whether customers are investigating Webex Teams through a free 90 day trial, or have already acquired the product and want to accomplish more, I help them to get comfortable with the software, then explore how they can maximise the benefits. The best part of my job is seeing our customers achieve results far beyond their expectations, with improved employee morale and productivity the biggest changes.
If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it is because Cisco recently announced that its Spark and Webex platforms would be merged, to keep up with the changing nature of working teams in this digital era. What has emerged, is a new Webex Meetings application, as well as a seamless team collaboration application called Webex Teams, previously known as Cisco Spark. Cisco is investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to continue improving meetings, so expect some exciting new features to be rolled out soon – follow me on LinkedIn to stay updated on all things Webex!
The new version makes adopting collaboration technology easy. Cisco has completely integrated the technology across the two applications – so you get the same great functionality and users have a common experience, with tools like whiteboarding, video, content sharing, and messaging. Importantly, for anyone using freelancer or consultants, guest access is easily set up and terminated.
At Data#3, we practice what we preach, employing Cisco Webex Teams to work more closely together. There’s a reason I’m such a strong advocate – this technology has made my own working life more productive. Teams has altered the way we function, raising team morale and helping everyone to feel that their input is valued.
The developers at Cisco recognised something very interesting: the way we ‘work’ in our downtime, using social media, is in any ways more productive than the way we use traditional workplace tools. As a result, they made Webex Teams adopt that familiar social media style of collaboration and sharing, and it has been a definite success in my workplace.
We now use Teams for almost all internal communications, so I can keep track of all project updates, see how many quotes are pending and related eta information. It has really cut down on unnecessary effort – most responses can be done in five seconds via the chat function, whether I’m in the office or on-the-go. If I need to call a meeting, Webex Teams checks availability automatically, and makes the call – no more checking phone numbers or email addresses.
It’s not only my own team that has adopted this new technology. With geographically dispersed Australian team members, our marketing team quickly found some efficiencies in adopting Webex Teams. Like many marketing teams, projects often include external stakeholders, such as agencies and vendor partners. The team can keep in touch with multiple projects constantly, whether they’re in the office, out and about at events, or on the train for their commute home. Webex Teams makes sure all project files, notes and contacts are available, so that wherever the team travels, everything they need is at their fingertips.
Flexibility is one of the big advantages of Webex Teams, and the marketing group takes full advantage, harnessing it for all types of projects, teams and conversations. As you might expect, they work with a lot of content types, like graphics, videos, web designs, eBooks and copywriting. Everyone can share, comment, and edit, without the usual problems of passing around often very large files. This is a huge productivity boost.
Meetings, too, have changed, thanks to Webex Teams. The marketing team has been quick to make use of the full online meeting capabilities, hosting planning sessions on a Webex Board, agency briefings, or impromptu WIP meetings within a Team space. In the midst of a brainstorming session for the latest campaign, the team can collaborate on ideas on the virtual whiteboard, with a colleague in Sydney annotating a diagram drawn in Brisbane, in real-time. Distance is no longer a barrier to teamwork.
Anything that aids productivity and staff morale is likely to help improve customer experience, so it will be no surprise that we are seeing organisations prioritise collaboration in their customer service teams. In the customer service environment, when a ticket is raised for support, the right person working on that issue can be automatically called, so that the customer isn’t passed around to a series of operators without the right information. Instead, they get easy one-on-one interactions.
For more complex support needs, the entire team involved will always receive updates and know the exact situation – and in some situations, they may even give the customer guest access to their project, so they have absolute transparency. Specialists can be easily added in as needed, and challenges can be addressed together. If two heads are better than one, imagine the problem-solving power of an extended team.
In Australia, we have a history of finding innovative ways to overcome distance. For all sorts of organisations, we can use collaboration technology like Webex Teams to close the gap. For example, a doctor in a remote town in far North Queensland can seek advice from a specialist oncologist in Melbourne in real-time, sharing scans and images about the patient from the bedside. Working with Teams can do more than save on the cost of flying a patient to meet a specialist, or vice versa, it can save lives.
Likewise, students in regional towns can have unprecedented access to content. Imagine a class linking in real-time to a scientist on the Great Barrier Reef. The students could see first-hand the effects of climate change, or the range of wildlife, while asking questions, right from their classroom. The implications in education are breath-taking, and the possibilities for virtual excursions are endless.
My advice, after implementing this in my own team, is not to look at Webex Teams as a new version of Skype, email and messaging – instead view it as something completely new and consider how it can be used to get to the outcome you need.
Time to ramp up team productivity and get more from Webex Teams? I’m always happy to share what we’ve learned at Data#3. Contact us today.