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This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

The need to move with speed has had a profound
impact on today’s workers, who require flexible
tools that let them communicate in new ways.

My firm, ZK Research, defines digital transformation as the application of technology to build new operating models or processes by leveraging the convergence of people, business, and things. Digital advancements are creating new product and services opportunities as well as transforming business operations, enabling organizations to generate more revenue, lower costs, and achieve higher levels of efficiency to gain advantages over competitors.

Historically, competitive advantage derived from having the best product, the lowest prices, or the best people. This is no longer the case.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change,” as noted in a famous quote summarizing Charles Darwin’s 1859 book, “The Origin of Species.” Never has this statement been truer for business. To survive, companies must be willing — and able — to change fast. In the digital era, leadership comes from a company’s ability to recognize shifts in the market landscape and adapt quickly.

The pace of change in business is happening at an unprecedented rate. “Speed is the new currency of business,” as Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, was quoted as saying earlier this year during a World Economic Forum panel on digital transformation.

The need to move with speed has had a profound impact on today’s workers. The digital workforce needs to be an agile one, easily able to jump from project to project and meeting to meeting. In fact, in an era of DevOps, continuous development, and project sprints, entire project teams often quickly assemble, make a decision, and then just as quickly disassemble. Collaborating with multiple people in multiple teams has now become the norm.

The change in work style is driving the need for new tools. For people who are maniacal about e-mail management, e-mail can be a very effective project tool. But few are, and so for most users finding a particular email in the huge list of messages sorted chronologically can be impossible. The masses need a tool that can help sort things by project thread or even by conversation.

This is the strength of the product category known as workstream communications and collaboration (WCC), or team collaboration (see related post, “‘WCC’ Makes Communications Strategic Again“). WCC is the coming together of unified communications, enterprise social, messaging, video, and conferencing apps.

Traditional UC came to life as a great tool for synchronous, real-time communications, but it worked on the basis that everyone was connected all the time. While it may seem like everyone is always plugged in, sometimes people really aren’t available. This could be because of time zone issues, travel days, or maybe people want to have a nice night out with their spouses and not get bombarded with a thousand texts and phone calls. (This last concept may seem foreign to people I know in the networking and communications space, but believe me most normal people want to have some semblance of work-life balance.)

WCC is built on the concept of both synchronous and asynchronous communications. Messages are persistent, but you don’t always have to be connected.

With a WCC tool, now one team member can post a PowerPoint or some other deliverable into a workstream along with a number of questions about the content. Other team members can get to those questions when they have the time — and, more importantly, they can easily see which ones have been answered and can read other comments within communications threads sorted by project. If the state of the project requires a “real time” conversation, users can be invoke that right from the WCC application instead of having to use a different tool.

Users can easily flip over to their other projects as time permits. As one of my kids says, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy.” Without WCC, workers spend hours sifting through hundreds or even thousands of e-mails and trying to remember who sent what message when and for what purpose.

Business leaders seem to understand that digital organizations need to be dynamic and adaptable to change. However, a business can’t achieve these things without IT agility, which is why there has been so much investment in technology areas like virtualization, cloud computing, Internet of Things, and mobility. It’s important to understand that workers also need to be agile, and that requires new processes and tools like WCC.

If you’re looking to increase the productivity of your organization’s workforce, join me this Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 2:00 p.m. ET for a webinar titled, “Up Your Collaboration Game in the Age of Digital Transformation.” Noted technologist David Carr and Ted Jaffe, product manager for RingCentral’s Glip WCC tool, will join me in discussing this important topic.

Register now, and join us on Wednesday!

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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