Enterprise ᛫ Article ᛫ 4 Minute Read ᛫ Epson

Build a Collaborative Business

In the age of digital transformation, collaboration is the lifeblood of every organization, requiring cross-functional teams of business or technology professionals—or both—to come together in collective ventures. Corporate team members working in the same location or scattered across the country or even the world must be able to join up for impromptu or scheduled meetings to brainstorm ideas, design new products and even participate in training that will help them support new business requirements.

For these sessions to be truly effective requires that participants be enabled to deliver to objectives. Whether a team meeting is called to make an important decision on-the-spot or is part of an ongoing series to drive business strategy, innovation or education, teams must be empowered to contribute their thoughts and to raise questions. They must feel that they are a part of the proceedings rather than just observers—even if they’re not in the same room as other participants or if they’re using a different device.

Clearly there is a desire for strong collaboration capabilities. Close to three-quarters of North American business and IT leaders said that their organization would be more successful if “employees were able to work in more flexible and collaborative ways,” according to one industry survey conducted by Raconteur and Google for Work. More than half were confident that collaboration is having a positive and tangible impact on their organization.

What does a collaborative business look like?

Among the biggest questions that enterprise executives face is how to drive collaboration forward in their businesses in a more profound way. If there isn’t total buy-in to the idea of bringing together people from multiple parts of the business with different areas of expertise to realize a common goal, not even the most advanced collaborative technology will have the impact that it should.

“Many of today’s most important challenges are so complex and multifaceted that they can only be tackled by teams of experts from disparate domains,” explains an article in the Harvard Business Review. “To solve them, professionals must be able to harness ideas, people, and resources from across disciplinary and organizational boundaries.” 

There are a few required building blocks to instill within both leaders and contributors to ensure that collaboration becomes part of an organization’s culture and daily operations at all levels, and therefore sustainable, according to a paper from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. It lists habits of highly collaborative organizations, among them:

  • Leadership team usage of collaboration tools and strategies to encourage employees at all organizational levels to embrace the concept.
  • Communication to employees about how collaboration improves their jobs and how it will take the organization to the next level.
  • Integration of collaboration into the organizational workflow, so that it is a natural part of processes rather than another skill to be acquired.
  • Offering rewards for collaborative teamwork, such as tying a percentage of an employee’s bonus to how effectively the individual collaborates with others.
  • Focusing on metrics that align different business units.
  • Recognizing that their environments must adapt and evolve to continually support collaboration.
  • The development of a strategy for collaboration before committing to technology purchases.

Shaping the collaborative business

Another consideration for organizations is fostering collaboration by setting up appropriate workspaces for teams to engage in these activities.

One recent trend is setting up “huddle rooms,” which are especially suited for informal and often unplanned meetings that may include small groups of workers on-site as well as geographically dispersed and mobile employees, or even customers or business partners. These rooms don’t have to be enclosed within four walls. Once the business has decided upon its collaborative strategy, these spaces just need to be equipped with the right technology resources.

Include interactive projectors among these resources. They offer strong visual and functional capabilities when compared to the one-sided flat screen displays that organizations may initially consider. They transform physical whiteboards or any flat surface into digital technologies, ideally supporting touchscreen input via fingers or digital pens, with no PC or specific software required to operate them.

Today’s interactive projectors should provide three primary collaboration methods for at least a dozen participants, either in the room or remote:

  1. Collaborators can simultaneously write new digital notes, create images, and annotate existing materials, which may be imported from devices such as USB drives or wirelessly shared and displayed by both local and remote users working on diverse mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android systems.
  2. Collaborators can interact with computer applications, such as PowerPoint, when their systems are connected via HDMI or VGA inputs or via wireless connections, effectively turning whiteboards into scalable screens.
  3. Collaborators can connect to video conferencing equipment so that participants in different locations can see each other face-to-face in a large display, or use split screens so that people and whiteboard content can be displayed side-by-side.

Any work done during huddle room sessions can be saved and printed or emailed later, too, making it convenient for everyone to refer to as they work on the next stage of their projects. Or, if these devices are used in training rooms for more formally planned business education programs, employees come away with easily accessible review material.

Additionally, when interactive projectors offer high color and white brightness and HD widescreen resolution, they are equally suitable for use in corporate boardrooms, conference rooms and even trade shows.

Don’t forget that projector screen size matters in all manner of collaborative scenarios, too: People must be able to clearly read shared materials and, if video-conferencing is taking place, facial expressions too, to help gauge participants’ reactions to ideas. Interactive projectors must be able to project screen sizes that replicate the average desktop experience for meeting participants. To replicate a 25-inch desktop monitor, for instance, a 100-inch screen projection is required. Projectors that provide scalable screen sizes help ensure that they’ll meet the varying requirements of all-size environments, from huddle rooms to conference rooms.

Culture and tech combine for better collaboration

Collaboration is a very important skill, according to 86% of respondents to PwC’s 20th CEO Survey. It’s one that drives new ideas and develops inspiration into true innovation, in the opinion of Vicki Huff Eckert, US and Global New Venture leader.

A combination of a cultural willingness to work together as well as the use of technological tools always will be critical to effective collaboration: When combined, “you unlock tremendous power,” Huff Eckert writes. “Now is the time to start turning that key.”

Those are words that will resonate with any organization preparing for the future, especially as it relates to embracing the concept of digital business.