A key part of my role at Polycom is working closely with our customers and supporting them in addressing their business issues. I have learned that many people I meet are often curious about how our technology can help solve these issues, and perhaps all the capabilities of great collaboration in an organisation are still being discovered. I am lucky to work with solutions and innovations that truly can help various industries with their specific challenges such as providing better healthcare, extending the reach of education, assisting customers with personalised services, improving operating margin, enabling flexible working, and keeping the cost of real estate down.
Every industry, business unit, business process, and organisational function has their own specific challenges to address. Let me highlight some scenarios of how collaboration tools can help solve business issues for a variety of industries and functions.
1. Industry: Healthcare
Business issue: Head Doctor of Neurology and Stroke faces a shortage of specialists “I need to provide specialist care and training to remote primary health care centres”
Doctors and specialists can overcome resource shortages through the adoption of telemedicine solutions, and collaborate with patients and peers across any distance. In this scenario, there are several ways in which collaboration tools supporting the workflow of specialist care and training help the Head Doctor of Neurology and Stroke to address the shortage of specialists issue by leveraging his current expertise more efficiently.
Collaboration technology can help provide consultative care to their patients where it is needed and liaise with colleagues at primary care centres by using integrated telemedicine solutions. Connecting medical devices such as medical cameras and scopes, vital signs monitoring equipment, electronic stethoscopes with High Definition video and voice solutions at the primary care centre can assist the specialist during the consultation. Further, an integrated telemedicine solution would also support the primary care centre to schedule appointments with a specialist. Before, during and after the consultation, the specialist, patient and the primary health care doctor have access to the patients’ health records including images such as X-rays supported by two-way annotation capabilities. For training of staff at the primary care centre, collaboration solutions also support recording and streaming of the video and content.
Business issue: Dean of a University needs to increase student intake “I need to attract more students with an education offering that stand out in this competitive market, yet keep my current headcount for professors and teachers where it is today”
A university can enhance their education offering and attract more students and make the best use of their education experts using collaboration solutions providing more accessibility to lessons before, during and after a lecture. Before a lecture, ‘flipped learning’ can be facilitated by recording lectures or assignments from the teacher so students can access these files in their own time. In addition, students can form study groups working at dedicated training stations collaborating with students at home or other locations. Content can be easily shared for discussions alongside annotation capabilities for the students, while recordings from previous lectures can be accessed for reviews and discussions.
During a lecture, collaboration technology can facilitate students from multiple universities to participate. Students also have the ability to join the class from home yet experience what the students in the classroom experiences with the same possibilities for interaction with the teacher. Professors and experts from other universities, the business community or from other parts of the society can be brought in as guest lectures without the need for costly and time consuming travels, hence providing access to top expertise that the student require from a leading university.
After class the students can view the recording or search the part of the lecture that they need to focus more on for discussing in their study groups preparing for a task or an exam. Collaborative technology can also enable the Dean of the university to design a flexible and competitive education programme to attract new students, by leveraging existing expertise within the university as well as their eco-systems of academic partners.
3. Industry: Financial services Business issue: Providing faster and more personalised services to high net worth clients “We need to provide faster and more personalised services to our high net worth clients”
In the financial and investment area there is a constant and rapid flow of information and factors that influence investments decisions for a bank’s customers. High net worth clients in particular request the best expertise and analysis from their banks with a personalised service. Having the capability to provide visual communication services where high net worth clients have access to their personal client manager with the ability to consult other experts immediately, will substantially increase service offerings from the bank in order to serve their clients better. Today, banks can provide this service instantly to the high net worth clients over a secure, high quality browser-based video solution, with abilities to share and discuss content and bring in multiple experts into the discussion regardless of location.
In addition, the bank can record personalised messages and provide updates to their clients to be viewed in their own time.
By using visual communication, the bank can provide clients with personal and interactive customer service to differentiate themselves from the competition and develop a long-standing relationship with the client.
4. Industry: Retail Business issue: operating margin
“We have multiple new products, new suppliers and promotions every quarter and it is essential that we provide training to our sales staff in more than 100 stores. Our management has asked us to lower the cost for this training as the company need to improve our operating margin.”
Video solutions which connect all the stores with headquarters and suppliers can substantially improve the ability for all retail staff to learn about products and promotions directly from the suppliers themselves, or from their corporate representatives. Conducting training programmes to multiple stores simultaneously does not only save time and cost but also promotes a collaborative environment between employees, the headquarters and the suppliers.
In addition, customer support from the suppliers directly to the shop will be improved as the shop can connect over video to discuss issues with product experts.
5. Industry: Corporate enterprise Business issue: HR executives for a global IT company need to attract new talent and keep attrition costs down
“We are growing and hiring people at a rapid pace and it is difficult, costly and time consuming to find and attract the right talent. In addition the cost for attrition is high and we need to focus more on retaining our top talents in the company”
Interviewing candidates for a job via video collaboration is increasing in use today. The cost savings are obvious especially for a geographically dispersed company where a candidate has to meet with multiple stakeholders from different teams and locations. Not only do video interviews save time and cost, but it is also important for evaluating and choosing the right candidate as their communication skills, expressions and body language can be seen by the interviewer.
Collaboration tools are also playing a major part in retaining talent as flexible working options for many employees are an important factor for joining a new company or for staying in their current role. In many organisations, their top talent work from home, on the road, or in small branch offices. Further, working irregular hours is common in most international businesses of today to ensure you can be online at the same time as colleagues in different time zones. More employees are choosing to work from home to save time commuting and spend this time being more productive, thereby improving their work/life balance.
It is still very important however, that these flexible workers still feel that they are a part of a team. A study by Wainhouse and Polycom showed that 87% of companies found video collaboration helps employees work remotely without feeling disconnected from their colleagues.
With collaboration tools the HR Executive at this organisation can also shorten the hiring time and cost. By offering a flexible working environment where the employees will have a better work-life balance will contribute to lower the cost for attrition.
Innovative and reliable technology is an enabler for improving processes and business issues. However it is how the businesses apply those technologies that really makes a difference in solving the fundamental business issue which individuals, teams and organisations are facing.
If you are facing similar business issues, now’s the time to ask the question: How can collaboration tools help your organisation?