This year, I've been given a mission: Scour the world and collect a diverse set of perspectives on the future of communication and collaboration from technology leaders. Then, take those insights and build a library of expertise from our internal teams, our partners, consultants, analysts and customers. Use that mosaic of viewpoints to paint a realistic picture of what communications and collaboration can be in the next three to five years.

It's a daunting task, but I'm up for it. And, I hope you are as well, because I’d like your help. It’s just five questions in five minutes or less. That's all it will take to leave your mark on the ever-changing business communications and collaboration landscape.

The Method

Grab a video camera, a DSLR or a smartphone (in landscape), or log on to your favorite video collaboration tool. Take a breath, and then hit record.

The Questions

Next, answer the following questions:

1.        What does the future of communications and collaboration look like over the next three years?
2.        What forces will drive this transition?
3.        What will be the biggest hurdle to overcome?
4.        What organization is doing it right?
5.        What steps should organizations take today?

My Answers

You can watch this video, or you can read my responses to these questions below.

1.  What does the future of communications and collaboration look like over the next three years?
I envision a world where collaboration is no longer separate from work. That means the systems where we do most of our work – Salesforce, Workday, Workzone, Epic, Powerschool, Oracle, SAP and other systems – are integrated with core functionalities. This includes team collaboration, persistent chat, task management, file-sharing and the power to promote text-based asynchronous conversations to real-time voice and video conferences seamlessly.

But that's not all. I envision this collaboration occurring across platforms through integrations in the collaboration application, allowing people to communicate with others operating on different systems. One screen. One simple workflow.

2.  What forces will drive this transition?
To stay competitive in an increasingly competitive global market, IT decision makers, business leaders and executives are turning to digital transformation. Digital transformation is the desire to optimize existing workflows with modern and emerging technology in order to gain efficiency, increase productivity and cut costs.  Workforce collaboration is a vital part of this transformation, and it’s key to ensuring the future competitiveness of organizations.

As I say in the video, "[Digital transformation] is driving IT decision makers and business line managers and executives to leave no stone unturned."

3.  What will be the biggest hurdle to overcome?
The biggest hurdle to overcome is the inertia of using existing technology. Adoption of new workflows powered by communication and collaboration will take a concerted effort led by a conductor who truly believes in the power of these emerging tools. It's going to take a mandate to break the momentum of decades of email use and effectively pivot to modern technology, especially for large enterprises with long legacies.

4.  What organization is doing it right?
That's what I'm on the search to find out. I think a lot of companies are starting to put the pieces together, but no particular company stands out when I consider which have fully integrated collaboration technology across their organization.

5. What steps should organizations take today?
Get a champion. This isn't a “build it and they will come” type of thing. It's a “build bridges, build a coalition, build a movement within your organization” type of thing.

To quote the video, "The work will get done, regardless, but these transformational technologies have the ability to change the way workforces engage."

My Challenge to You 

Have an opinion on this topic and share it with me; share it with the world. I’m chasing as broad a collection of answers as I can find—from all industries, all business sizes, all corners of the globe. Everyone should have an opinion on how technology should evolve to make communications and collaboration easier, faster and more productive. After all, none of us is satisfied with what we have today, and each of us has ideas about what we'd like to see happen to our favorite collaboration tool or work management system.

Once we talk about how collaboration can make a fundamental difference in our lives and the lives of our colleagues, then we can begin to bring this wonderful vision of the future into the present and reap those benefits that have long since been promised: the ability to work smarter, not harder.  

Tell me what you think.

Effective communications is the key to workplace productivity. Learn more with our comprehensive report. >

Ryan Smith

Content Strategist

Known as "The Voice of Mitel," Ryan is a technology evangelist with a unique mix of software development expertise, marketing strategy leadership and professional multimedia development. A lifelong learner, Ryan's passion for storytelling drives his proven ability to simplify complex concepts for audiences around the world.  

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