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The Rise of Workstream Collaboration: How COVID-19 Is Spurring the New Future of Work

We have learned a lot about remote work since the emergence of COVID-19. Most businesses didn’t have contingency plans for immediate and mandatory work at home, and many employees had neither the equipment nor digital dexterity to easily pivot to do so. In a recent survey from Avaya of 300 business leaders, 32% reported employees having difficulties adapting to the new technology and communications tools available to them. We’re already seeing the permanent and dramatic impact of the pandemic on business and society, and Workstream Collaboration (WSC) will play a major role.

COVID-19 is swinging the workplace pendulum from Unified Communications (UC) to Workstream Collaboration, replacing the familiar system of using disparate tools to collaborate via standalone applications with configurable workspaces built on top of workflows. WSC empowers teams to communicate in context through the integration of chat, voice, video, and meetings with business workflows and external applications. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of teams will rely on Workstream Collaboration as their primary means of communicating, coordinating, and sharing information. By 2023, Gartner assumes that 75% of organizations using Workstream Collaboration will have it fully extended to all employees - up from 45% in 2019.

A ‘new normal’ has created a tangent towards a new Future of Work in which Workstream Collaboration will be central, driven by several emerging concepts:

The Evolved Experience Economy: There has been an explosion in the ways people can connect via new touchpoints offering multiple modalities. Touchpoints such as a browser on a laptop or a smartphone have evolved and have been joined by many more including home devices like Google and Alexa and virtual or augmented reality devices. Taking this a step further, each device and modality can support different personas in a variety of ways. The communication and collaboration tools in the digital workplace that support the way we work in the office, at home, and while traveling must encapsulate all the multi-experience principles across different touchpoints, modalities, and personas.

The New Work Nucleus (NWN): The NWN is a term recently coined by Gartner to describe what they have identified as an emerging phase of digital business. The NWN represents a shift in the core of how the modern workplace functions. In their report, “The Role of Workstream Collaboration in the New Work Nucleus,” Gartner refers to Workstream Collaboration platforms as “the central workspace for the new work nucleus.” The NWN recognizes the important transition from the old way of being digitally enabled to the new way, infused with AI and automation, and that Workstream Collaboration is the core of that transition.

Fusion Teams: In Avaya’s recent Work from Anywhere survey, 71% of tech decision-makers reported faster adoption of new technologies in their organization due to COVID-19. The faster adoption of technology requires the right team to manage the business through the transition. Gartner defines “fusion teams” as a multidisciplinary digital business team that blends technology and other types of domain expertise. In other words, the fusion of the right people with the right – or in this case new – technology. Over 80% of companies have set up “fusion teams” to support responding to the pandemic.

Here’s how Workstream Collaboration supports this new Future of Work:

  • Readiness for the new reality of remote work: Avaya’s recent study found that 72% of U.S.-based businesses have been rethinking how they work as a result of COVID-19, and 80% are already retooling to provide improved customer and employee experiences that enable new ways of working. Workstream Collaboration provides better access to communication tools, better quality of communications, and helps create a stronger business impact (i.e. greater business efficiency, a more diverse and distributed workforce).

  • Less application fatigue: Half of the polled executives say they have seen their employees struggle with fatigue from managing too many disparate communication tools. User fatigue combined with having to figure out new ways for growth following, or while still in the throes of, a pandemic is pushing businesses to favor technologies that will support being the ‘glue’ between existing applications. In other words, a collaboration solution that connects workflows and processes to improve customer and employee experiences and combines with an existing broad enterprise ecosystem. Workstream Collaboration is that solution.

  • One vendor with one single source of management: Over 70% of executives say they prefer to have one single vendor for all of their collaboration technology (the study found that this is especially important to large, multi-office enterprises that average 4+ different vendors).

For CIOs, CTOs, and app leaders, the new Future of Work means navigating an entirely new landscape of vendors and opportunities to connect or add more value, to their existing environment of increasingly complex technologies (a conversation for another time). What I will say is this: there is no option not to transform anymore, and the results of our new “Work from Anywhere” study prove it.

Read the full Avaya article by Simon Harrison

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