In today's modern business world, there are applications for everything. From email to voice calls to file sharing and even collaboration, applications are helping employees get work done smarter and faster. The explosion of mobile technologies has enabled businesses to go beyond the limited functionality of traditional landline telephones and tap into a range of apps that improve performance and productivity across all business departments. But, this exponential app growth has also given birth to another dilemma: app overload. Today’s workforce is bombarded with so much information and messages from multiple business applications that often times do not work with one another. And the result? Confusion and an overall drop in productivity. So how can modern enterprises remedy this?
Andrew Bourne, the Chief Technology Officer at Bolste, Inc., suggests what organizations can do to choose the right business and collaboration apps, and shares with VoipReview.org how Bolste, an all-in-one, cloud-based collaboration software, can help businesses achieve better outcomes.
The Era of Enterprise App Overload and Digital Clutter
Driven by the desire to streamline operations and improve communications and collaboration, companies are adding an avalanche of apps to their arsenal of enterprise technologies and tools. And as the adage goes, one can never have too much of something. A recent Forrester study shows that a large number of workers usually move outside their preferred work-enhancing apps to share critical information and work with others through voice, email, text or chat channels. Not only does this break the audit trail of information among workers, but it also creates communication silos and clogs communication channels. In other words: additional apps that were exactly designed for productivity have become (ironically) counter-productive.
While trimming down the number of business apps that are used daily is advised, in tech--as in health--prevention can work on your behalf. That is why it is highly critical for businesses to carefully select the apps they use in order to avoid digital clutter and information overload. To help teams select the right enterprise apps, Bourne advises organizations to consider the following factors:
User interface and the user experience - Before anything else, Bourne believes businesses should start their search by looking at the user interface and experience first. “There are solutions out there that, when you first open the application, it's not immediately apparent how you are supposed to use the application," says Bourne. "And if the UX isn't rich and fulfilling, then the adoption rate will be really poor. You could end up buying the best solution and spending lots of money on it; but if you don't have the user adoption, then the solution is a loss. The ease of use has got to be there above anything else, and I cannot stress that enough.”
The end user - “The composition of teams is also important,” adds Bourne. “You need a solution that understands how teams link together. All of the essential tooling must be in one place for people to process content. This also takes into consideration the mobile experience, too.”
Features and integrations - Users should also buy a solution that is all-inclusive, advises Bourne. “From a cost perspective, you could spend money on many different solutions and then be forced to figure out how these solutions fit into what you’re doing...and this doesn’t make for a seamless user experience. You need a solution that starts with a good UX and user experience to get the adoption rate.”
Cost - Cost is also another (albeit big) factor. Bourne acknowledges that there are so many free services today--and some good while others are okay. “But with free services, the factors to consider are service, resilience, scalability, and long-term value," said Bourne. "There are lots of things that get thrown out there that can be useful...but ultimately, what is the service’s roadmap and what is the quality of service behind it?”
Surviving the Enterprise App-ocalypse with Bolste
Careful selection of enterprise apps isn’t the only solution to surviving app overload, though. There’s another effective way to counter the proliferation of enterprise collaboration cloud suites and chat tools: the digital work hub.
According to a recent report by Aragon Research, entitled The Workplace of the Future Starts with a Digital Work Hub, “the explosion of cloud-based, best of breed content and collaboration tools is overwhelming the enterprise with too many tools and not enough time to use them all effectively. The rise of the Digital Work Hub – which promotes engagement throughout the enterprise and ecosystem – is a new way forward.” Digital work hubs are a new breed of enterprise-grade software wherein employees can create, curate, and communicate business content within a single interface strictly designed to simplify work.
Digital work hubs, or also known as all-in-one solutions, resolve the isolated-app problem by providing capabilities that are normally available in multiple apps--including team collaboration, chat, video chat, tasking, calendaring and more--in one app,. “Digital Work Hubs are a benefit to individual knowledge workers and the enterprise alike because they actually support the way people actually work today, and can deliver productivity and help the enterprise operate at a much faster pace," said Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst at Aragon Research. And based on Aragon’s latest report, one of the emerging providers in this digital work hub space is Bolste.
Bolste is not just another collaboration app. “With Bolste, think of it as an all-in-one solution, a digital work hub,” says Bourne. “We think about it as including the essential tooling all in one place...all of the special tooling businesses need to get work done in one place, aligning people, process, content, and context. These four things are the most important factors to keep in mind for the success of a digital work hub.”
According to Bourne, Bolste developed their all-in-one solution based on three things: the number of apps the average employee uses, the structure of today’s teams, and the mobile experience. “We built Bolste and thought about all of these things/points, especially the redefining of teams. With this re-definition in mind, we decided to allow users to extend external invites to guests (free of charge). By inviting outside individuals, we allow users to invite external people that align in your process but who may not be part of your internal network,” shared Bourne.
Here are some of the key highlights of Bolste:
Bolsters - Bolsters are digital all-in-one workspaces, where users can meet and collaborate. Here, users can collaborate with internal and external team members (including vendors, customers, and partners) in one organized channel. Channels can be organized by team, subject, task, or project.
My Bolste - My Bolste is a user’s personal planner that gives users a bird’s eye view of all interactions, tasks, files, documents, overall productivity, and more across all channels.
Business Messaging - The platform lets colleagues, vendors, partners, and customers connect securely through private messaging.
File Sharing - With Bolste, users can now store and share an unlimited number of files (with no storage limits and no additional fees).
Video Conferencing - Bolste makes meetings more personal with voice and video conferencing in one app--no software downloads required.
Notes and Document Collaboration - Work on projects more efficiently by creating and collaborating on documents in real time.
Task Management - Create interactive to-do lists, assign tasks, track progress, and view a graphic representation of task progress and trends with this feature.
Bolste also takes a proactive approach in regards to security. “Within Bolste, chat and video is all contained within the virtual walls of the company,” said Bourne. “And in regards to encryption, we encrypt from the desktop or even mobile transmission and also data at rest (TLS 1.2 encryption). A lot of the security blanket is provided by AWS. When you get into the app itself we also have roles and permissions, in addition to how we deploy these roles in the application.”
“We look at security from the outside perspective and consider everything you think about (from hacking to phishing and more) in addition to how we deploy infrastructure to even the internal structure," added Bourne. "We also ensure we provide the correct administration rights so people have the right data at the right time.”
Leading business communication solutions today offer integrations with other enterprise tools to improve efficiency and eliminate communication silos. But Bolste is unlike other collaboration apps in that it doesn’t integrate one app after another; rather, it brings everything into one place, covering the scope of tools that today’s organizations and teams consistently use to stay productive.
Bolste is an all-in-one digital work hub, where teams--not just internal teams--but even external stakeholders who are halfway across the world can collaborate. The cloud-based solution improves business interactions while cutting costs at the same time by replacing individual, separate apps dedicated for chat, email, video conferencing, messaging, document sharing, and more, with a single, instantly usable platform. Bolste is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona.