Instant success with social collaboration tools
Our behavior on social media and the functions we use there are beginning to spill over into collaboration tools for companies and organizations. New niche players, global internet giants and well-established names in business communication are battling it out for customers. There are so many new things to discover, but the need for good sound remains the same.
The influence of social media and its inroads into the corporate world are creating a more open environment that many people feel is breaking down old hierarchies. Wherever you are geographically or within the organization, you can now find other people and interact with them easily.
As a trend, the phenomenon of social collaboration has a direct link to a major shift in the globalized business environment. A new culture of collaboration is taking hold, growing out of the faster pace of business and the need to quickly exchange ideas within teams and temporary constellations. Most social collaboration tools are designed to make it easy to keep track of conversation threads and work material, with clear organisation and good search functions. The most popular services also now provide good support for voice and video communication. So let's look at a few examples.
Facebook's collaboration tool
Workplace is Facebook's collaboration tool for businesses and organizations. The service looks like a regular Facebook page with thread-based conversations, a chat function (easy to start a conversation using text and audio/video), Like buttons and personal profile pages. Groups and events also work the same way, making Workplace easy to use. In addition, there is a function that allows employees from different companies to work together in the same group.
Teams in Office 365
Microsoft's latest tool for social collaboration is called Teams and it comes with the Office 365 package. Teams is designed for small groups and specific projects and serves as a complement to the Yammer service, which is for larger-scale collaboration within a company. The tool has more features than Workplace, since Skype for Business, with its fully-fledged real-time communication and conferencing services, is fully integrated into Teams in Office 365. A wide range of memes, gifs and emojis bring a light-hearted touch to your collaboration.
[UPDATE] In September 2017 Microsoft announced it's about to make Teams it's main communications tool over Skype for Business. It means Microsoft Teams will serve as a enterprise-grade service for voice, video and meetings. Office 365 users is expected to move over to Teams as the key communications client instead of Skype for Business. They will be enticed with new functions like machine learning, cognitive services and speech recognition that will improve the meeting experience.
Slack: the e-mail killer
Slack was launched in 2013 and was quickly dubbed the e-mail killer, as it replaces e-mail with real-time messaging. The tool is a simple way to talk digitally and allows you to jump in and out of channels. The service tends to be described as flat and non-hierachical, and it is easy to invite outsiders in. Slack offers integration with a large number of third-party services. For voice and video, for example, you can connect to Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom. Slack has also expanded its own service to include video conferencing for up to 15 participants.
Other popular meeting tools
The market for social collaboration tools has certainly exploded, so we won't attempt to provide a complete overview. It is still worth listing a few of the services developed by companies that already have leading positions in UCC (Unified Communication and Collaboration). These include Cisco Webex, Avaya Equinox, Unify Circuit and Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow.
A common feature of all today's social meeting tools is the fact that they are cloud-based. One advantage of this is that they usually offer a flexible subscription model, where you pay according to the level of functionality that the user or organization needs and how many licences you have active at any one time. Many cloud-based services are available in a free basic version, so that potential customers can try it out.
Sound – the foundation of a good meeting
As we've already established, real-time communication in the form of audio and video conferencing now has a central role in social collaboration tools. This means that as a purchaser, IT administrator or user, you need to plan for a good audio experience in this type of distance meeting just as much as for any other meeting. And it doesn't have to be either expensive or complicated.
This is where Konftel comes into the picture, as experts in sound for every type of audio and online conference. Our OmniSound technology guarantees crystal-clear audio when speaking and listening.
The social collaboration tools we've looked at here can benefit greatly from our speakerphones, which connect by USB to a computer or Bluetooth to a mobile phone. Take a closer look at the Konftel Ego speakerphone or one of the models in the Konftel 55-series. They cover the whole spectrum from personal distance meetings to meetings with up to 20 participants in one room. Konftel's 300-series also have several models with a USB port.
Because when things need to be discussed and resolved here and now, a meeting in real time is hard to beat – even if it is at a distance. As long as the participants can hear each other and remain relaxed, with no distractions.