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Study on SA businesses reveals tech trends for time saving in workplace in 2024

By , Regional Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation
15 Jan 2024
Andrew Bourne, Regional Head, Africa, Zoho.
Andrew Bourne, Regional Head, Africa, Zoho.

Over the past few years, collaboration and communication have become major sticking points for organisations of all sizes. While they’ve always been key success factors for businesses (Steve Jobs famously designed Pixar’s headquarters to maximise employee collaboration), the COVID-19 pandemic brought them into sharp focus. Suddenly, organisations had to grapple with finding ways to be collaborative and communicative in a fully remote environment; while companies taking a hybrid approach have looked for ways to ensure their employees' in-office time is used for collaboration.

The answer to effective collaboration and communication, however, has less to do with where employees work and more, instead, with how the organisation approaches those concepts. The results of a recent survey on collaboration and productivity trends conducted by Zoho and World Wide Worx revealed that, for instance, 81% of employees who had access to platforms that provided them a unified view of their work were able to save a significant amount of time every day, in turn, improving their productivity.

Industry trends highlight the need for unified platforms

Besides employees reportedly saving hours with the help of unified platforms, industry trends also further highlight the need to consolidate communication channels and collaboration avenues. The survey showed that 59% of employees in the construction industry feel like their productivity would improve if they had quick access to contextual cross-application data. Meanwhile, in IT, finance, and real estate, for example, employees use more apps than those in other industries, which increases the chances of data silos and parallel communication threads spread across multiple applications.

Providing employees in these industries with a collaboration platform that unifies cross-application data and contextually displays them in a single view can help eliminate duplication of efforts and repeated conversations about the same task across different communication channels.

Hurdles restricting organisations from adopting a unified collaboration approach

According to the survey, most employees in the mid-market segment encounter challenges when it comes to collaboration. These include difficulty communicating with other teams, managers, and senior leadership.

Other challenges include context switching (shifting between numerous applications while juggling multiple tasks), a lack of collaboration features across business apps, and low adoption of digital tools. Too much context switching, for example, can also lead to digital fatigue for employees, which drains productivity levels. Perennial issues such as data silos, load shedding, and poor Wi-Fi connectivity also continue to hamper the ability of businesses to provide a unified communication overview.

The power of a platform

While some of those challenges are more difficult to overcome than others, most notably load shedding, they aren’t insurmountable. A good first step is to use an enterprise productivity platform that is built with a unified view of collaboration and communication in mind.

Such platforms additionally allow employees to collaborate across the widest possible variety of business apps, including CRM. If the platform can seamlessly integrate with third-party apps, that further strengthens its ability to provide the kind of unified, collaborative view that employees desire.

Another critical element of any unified collaboration and communication platform is the ability to break down data silos. Given how vital data is to many aspects of contemporary business, from forecasting and projections to customer experience, it’s vital that decision-makers especially have a unified view of data.

A truly worthwhile investment

While building a unified view of collaboration and communication also entails baking it into the organisation’s culture, the right platform can undoubtedly be a major enabler of this view. Given the clear benefits it provides, as well as the frustrations employees feel when they don’t have that view, organisations should strongly consider investing in unified collaboration platforms to help employees be productive.

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