How we communicate and collaborate in business is rapidly changing. And it’s about time! Most of us are in what I call “Email Chaos.” It’s not uncommon for workers to receive more than 200 emails a day with an additional 1,000 emails that haven’t even been opened. McKenzie tells us the productivity loss in time wasted is estimated to be as much as 25 percent. That means we’re wasting about 10 hours a week in time that could be put to better use. So the technology that helped save us from the slow speed of postal mail has created an even bigger challenge today.
In addition, people who work offsite both full-time and part-time has exploded in the U.S. Forrester forecasts that a staggering 63 million (43 percent) of Americans will work out of the office by 2016. The communication infrastructure of employees working outside an office and losing the face-to-face interaction is not being addressed in the majority of businesses. The result is, teams are rarely on the same page anymore, with projects and day-to-day interactions falling into the communication abyss.
The good news is there are a plethora of Web-based tools that help businesses implement new behaviors in this massive paradigm shift. I believe if you want to grow your business effectively, even accelerate growth, you need to embrace this new technology.
These are the seven Web-based functionalities you can’t live without:
- Collaboration: Real time interaction that allows conversations to stream together and form a history of dialog.
- File storage and sharing: Cloud-based storage that is independent from your hard drive that can be shared anywhere, anytime.
- Project management: Group conversations and interactions that get teams involved in ongoing projects.
- CRM: Contact management software that provides a database of your connections and activity surrounding your business relationships.
- Notes and to-do lists: Organizational software to organize your work and keep you on focus.
- Document sharing: Software that allows you to share and edit documents in real time with others.
- Web conferencing: Used effectively, Web conferencing can convey ideas better by screen sharing, save travel expenses and connect those from a distance to create a sense of unity.
Each one of these “stand-alone” point solutions can independently be used effectively. However, getting employees to sign up for, pay and remember a multitude of passwords may represent a challenge all unto its own. Selecting an “all in one solution” in which your team can sign into one Web application and have everyone connected simultaneously with a total array of tools like email, calendar invites or website notifications can help teams overcome this challenge. These online software applications cost a fraction of buying tools separately and reduce time and effort in the sign-up process.
Whatever you decide, the future is upon us. Will you be left behind in this ever-changing business environment, trapped in the communication abyss?
Leif Hartwig is the President of Bolste