Effective collaboration across all devices and all locations is key to the success of each and every organization. With increasing competition in today's business world, possessing creative, collaborative teams can help give a business the edge it needs over its competitors. Fortunately, inter-company collaboration (even for companies with geographically dispersed teams) is now much easier with the vast range of team collaboration apps and tools available in the VoIP and UC markets.
ShoreTel, a leading provider of communication solutions to enterprises worldwide, recognizes the added value that effective team collaboration brings to businesses. And to help workers and employees collaborate more effectively, ShoreTel recently launched their very own real-time team collaboration tool: ShoreTel Teamwork.
In the following article, Stefan Zschiegner, the VP of Product Management at ShoreTel, and Nick Swerdlow, the Senior Manager of Product Management at ShoreTel, talk about their newest team collaboration offering and share with VoipReview.org why ShoreTel Teamwork is one of the best tools for bringing teams together.
ShoreTel Teamwork: Helping Teams Work Better, Smarter
Various advancements in technology have significantly changed how teams work together to accomplish a desired outcome. In the past, team collaboration meant working with colleagues and discussing projects via telephone, email, or maybe even a video conference. But today, teams can go beyond these traditional methods and utilize faster, more efficient digital tools that use real-time data and analytics. And ShoreTel Teamwork is one of these tools.
“Teamwork is a productivity app that is a digital hub for teams to chat, share files, create tasks, and more,” said Swerdlow. “After logging in, you can see all of the ‘workspaces’ that you are a part of...then you can then drill down into a workspace and see persistence, chat, create tasks, assign [tasks] to team members, or even share a file.”
As a mobile-first collaboration solution, Teamwork is designed to help remote teams and on-the-go employees work smarter by giving them a virtual workspace where they can interact, send messages, share files, and so much more. Teamwork is integrated with all ShoreTel Connect CLOUD tiers (Essentials, Standard and Advanced service offerings) for US and Canada customers, free of charge. Because Teamwork is packaged with all of ShoreTel’s UC tiers, it helps give businesses immense cost-savings. “This could create a huge benefit both in regards to productivity and overall cost if the customer has Slack already and is paying for it in addition to a ShoreTel solution. With Teamwork, chat is built in with the rest of the UC stack,” said Swerdlow.
Key Highlights of ShoreTel Teamwork
While access to a range of collaboration solutions is helpful (especially for globally dispersed teams), this accessibility can also create inefficiencies if not managed properly. Communication silos, for instance, can occur when knowledge, focus, and control aren’t shared effectively across an organization (ie. when teams use different apps or systems to collaborate without standardization). Not only does this disrupt communications, it can also be detrimental to the security of the business.
According to Swerdlow: “The single biggest challenge of communication inside an organization is silos. Everyone has their own communication budget, and oftentimes employees make decisions counter to IT...they make these decisions because IT often does not take the simplest approach but the cheapest option when trying to break down silos. The truth of the matter is: a network is only useful if everyone is using it. Teamwork comes with all UC offers, which means that everyone can use it within an organization.”
Teamwork offers a range of features and capabilities that not only helps teams communicate but also enables an organization to break down silos and share ideas like never before.
- Dashboards - A personal dashboard gives users a summarized view of all tasks and mentions, as well as new items, thus helping them to stay organized.
- Tasks - With Teamwork, it’s easy to create and assign tasks (as well as due dates) to team members. This feature helps determine workload and appropriate timelines. “A majority of productivity apps haven't cracked this yet,” said Swerdlow. “Most people gravitate to their muscle memory (i.e., pen and paper or sticky notes) which almost always ends up offline. Teamwork has taken the first step in integrating tasks into each workspace, which is something we haven’t seen competitors do, or at least do it well.”
- Workspaces - Teamwork provides teams with virtual workspaces or rooms to make true collaboration possible. Workspaces can either be set to private or public to make sure the right team members are interacting.
- User process mentions - Email and other forms of communication can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to users, especially when it comes to tracking messages and other notes. “ShoreTel combats this through a delightful user experience that makes it easy to sort, read, and address mentions," said Zschiegner. "We remove all friction points.” With Teamwork mentions, it is easy to get the attention of a specific team member because members are easily notified with any questions or comments they are tagged in. There’s also the '@all' mention that makes it easy to notify all team members within a specific workspace.
- File sharing and messaging - Because Teamwork offers file sharing and messaging capabilities, employees no longer have to switch between separate apps to upload, share, and access files, or even to chat with teammates. Everything can be done through the Teamwork app.
- Mobile-first approach - For ShoreTel, this is the first time that the company has led with a mobile app, and then followed up with a browser-based interface. “This enables users to have a very mobile experience and work style, and have the same seamless process across devices," explained Zschiegner. "Many competitors look at mobile as an afterthought. This, in turn, neglects the user experience.”
- API-first approach - Teamwork is the first app built on Summit, a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solution which was the result of ShoreTel’s acquisition of Corvisa last year. “ShoreTel is putting this Teamwork application on the Summit technology stack with an API," said Swerdlow. "This approach really sets ShoreTel apart as they (over time) integrate very easily with internal and external developers.” A few of ShoreTel’s innovative API-powered technologies showcased at this year’s Enterprise Connect include a touch and hands-free voice recognition app, integration of Teamwork with other productivity and CRM tools, and automatic transcription of conversations sent to Teamwork workspaces where they are transcribed as a task or message. ShoreTel also believes that Teamwork’s API-first approach enables very easy integration of workflows. “As UC is changing and evolving from phones to collaboration and giving people a choice as to how they communicate (from voice to video to messaging) we understand that we are becoming part of a much bigger ecosystem; and therefore, especially for ShoreTel, the need to make it easy to be part of this bigger ecosystem and to easily plug into it without having to rely on IT is important,” said Zschiegner.
The Future of Business Communications
According to Zschiegner, the popularity of real-time apps and asynchronous communication have no doubt increased the speed and efficiency of business, especially for those companies that are employing both global and remote workers. “Asynchronous apps like Teamwork not only decrease the overhead of email that can be a drain to productivity but also make information readily available for broader groups across multiple time zones," Zschiegner said. "The flexibility allows distributed teams to be more productive.” Enterprises and the industry, as a whole, can also expect greater transformation in the business communications space as many rising trends and technologies show great potential. Zschiegner shares the following predictions on where the market is headed:
- A continued increase in mobility and more integration of communications features into third-party applications and devices. “The effortlessness that integrations and mobility offer means workers can spend less time initiating their communications and more time on valuable business activities,” said Zschiegner.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Automation is another thing that helps to provide contextual information, and this in becoming part of smarter IoT workflows.
- Machine-to-machine and machine-to-person are enabling a great workflow for people and are great examples of digital assistance.
Learn more about Teamwork and how ShoreTel is leading the innovation in business communications by visiting ShoreTel’s website.
ShoreTel is a trusted provider of cloud communications solutions that help make interactions simple. Their range of solutions includes business phone systems, unified communications, contact center solutions, as well as a fully hosted voice and SMS development platform. Recognizing the unique needs of businesses, ShoreTel offers solutions in the cloud, on-site, or a combination of both.