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Team Collaboration in the Digital Workplace of the Future

Rob Homburg.jpgMost of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools. A standardized, integrated and extensible approach can make a huge difference to daily productivity.

by Rob Homburg, HPE Pointnext Services -- Network, Workplace and IoT

 

No matter your industry or the type of customers you serve, the challenge of managing daily processes across several disconnected systems is experienced by almost every employee in almost any department. This situation can be referred to as siloed systems – and it makes it virtually impossible to maintain any kind of competitive advantage. Yet, this is consistently how almost all companies worldwide operate.

Team collaboration.jpgIt’s not uncommon for organizations to use myriad disconnected systems, such as SharePoint farms for document repositories; Skype for Business infrastructure servers for collaboration and communications; and multiple separate document management systems, such as OpenText Documentum or IBM FileNet and email, for co-operating on critical business processes. Each of these process flows lives in its own system, disconnected from all the other systems.

As a result, most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools. As a result of all this switching, users simply can’t achieve their best productivity numbers because their attention is scattered across many open apps, even more ongoing conversations, and a constantly expanding to-do list. Without a standardized, integrated and extensible solution – such as Microsoft Teams, which streamlines processes, content, collaboration and communications – employees are forced to continuously shift between disconnected sources of information, resulting in ongoing productivity issues due to extensive context switching.

A single hub for teamwork

Microsoft introduced Teams three years ago with a vision for the application to become the hub for teamwork. A user would be able to start up Microsoft Teams in the morning and spend their worktime in a single app, regardless the organization's industry segment or the user's persona.

This is the reason why HPE Pointnext Services started using Microsoft Teams for our dispersed global teams across the globe. We wanted to minimize the time wasted by end users jumping between tasks and tools.

Teams has evolved significantly in its lifetime, as Microsoft has aggressively introduced new features and integration options. Above and beyond the mature workstream collaboration capabilities, any end user can now install ready-to-use templates, apps, bots and connectors provided from the app store. All of these offer extensions for several use cases with no coding necessary.

The extensions vary enormously. There are simple ones like OneNote notes or Planner tasks; intermediate ones for access to SharePoint or external websites; and complex ones with connectors for specific line-of-business applications for sales specialists or platforms like Salesforce.com and ADP. The Teams app store provides all of these applications; it currently offers several hundred apps and is growing rapidly.

No-code, low-code, or pro-code: your choice

Beyond the no-code extensions from the Teams app store, Microsoft has added support for low-code and professional coding capabilities to even further customize and extend Teams UI features.

The low-code extensibilities are aimed at the so called citizen coders. According to Gartner, a Citizen Coder (a.k.a. Citizen Developer) is “an end user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and run-time environments sanctioned by corporate IT.” This growing group of end users are equipped in their development efforts with simple-to-use visual tools and point-and-click functionality to develop new business applications, visualize data and connect various applications together. With the latter it becomes possible to overcome legacy siloed data infrastructures in a very efficient and quick way.

The pro-code extensibilities are aimed at the traditional developers. These developers can still use their preferred integrated development environments (IDE) to create very specific bespoke innovative solutions. Any of these developments can in turn be uploaded as a custom app to an individual customer tenant or, after going through rigorous testing by Microsoft, become a new app, available in the expanding ecosystem.

With the Office 365 standardized workloads and the no-, low- and pro-code extensibilities of a plain vanilla Microsoft Teams implementation, Microsoft has delivered on its promise to make Microsoft Teams a hub for teamwork. Today, three years after the initial introduction, end user personas – no matter how specific and unique their business requirements – can enjoy the benefits of increased productivity and less context-switching with a fully integrated and optimized teamwork experience during their activity-packed business day.

Yet another additional benefit can be identified when spending your entire workday in an integrated and optimized collaborative digital workplace and having all your colleagues available to you in the realm of the same application. It now becomes possible to truly collaborate with any of them regardless of your physical location (or theirs).

Building a collaboration platform for the new normal

The old Martini slogan "any time, any place, anywhere" is becoming more and more of a reality. Whether you're working at the office campus or outside – your home, a coffee shop, a train or air terminal – that location now becomes the collaborative digital workplace of choice for you and your colleagues. And it's not just in pandemic times that your organization could be reaping the productivity benefits from using an integrated and optimized hub for teamwork. It could essentially become the "new normal" for all the activity-packed business days to come for your organization.

Would you like your organization to benefit from these productivity enhancements as well? HPE Pointnext Services offers Advisory and Professional Services for transformations to Microsoft Teams. Do you want to start reaping these benefits at the speed of light? HPE Pointnext Services also offers the HPE Fast Start Service for Microsoft Teams, a stepping-stone implementation of a collaborative digital workplace within three weeks from pre-assessment to rollout.

Learn more about HPE Network, Workplace and IoT Services.

Rob Homburg

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