Collaboration: a niche of opportunities
By Franck Le Tendre, CEO of Finalcad
No one is going to say they are against collaboration, of course. Ask a thousand CEOs if they consider collaboration to be important to their business, and they will nod their heads in unison. It is precisely this consensus that encourages us to explore the way companies are structured in order to unleash the potential of truly value-creating collaboration.
It is necessary to understand how the structure of a company (processes, procedures and communication practices) affects quality of service. There are so many strategies designed to improve efficiency that they are often diluted in countless ongoing projects; yet they are more important than ever in the current climate.
Ten years ago, mobile technology revolutionised the workplace, promising a borderless and paperless office, and the end of conventional work schedules. Today this has become a reality, or at least a possibility, in all companies.
Indeed, thanks to collaborative tools, it is now possible to track activity in real time, even when employees are dispersed around the world, in the office, on a train or on a building site.
The term "collaborative tool" refers to technology that allows several people to simultaneously access the same document at any time of day or night, to easily share ideas, links, photos, videos and more. This is therefore technology that enables businesses to effectively work on projects, regardless of where their employees are located.
Collaborative tools and autonomy boost well-being in the workplace
The Cloud has had a decidedly positive impact on the way we work. With Cloud-based online collaborative tools, employees enjoy greater autonomy, thus supporting companies in the new issues of a constantly changing world. These benefits are not linked to the technology itself, but rather to the opportunities it brings. Indeed, there are many studies in which individuals report being happier and more creative in a flexible and collaborative working environment.
They firmly believe that technology and collaborative tools will help generate new opportunities, drive innovation and find more creative solutions. These positive attitudes reveal that collaborative platforms help increase the efficiency of companies while helping to speed up the delivery of their works, creating additional sales and improving customer satisfaction.
Freedom and collaborative efficiency go hand in hand
A cruel paradox. While 2.0 intranets, collaborative portals and other corporate social networks are flourishing, 6 in 10 people still have to overcome at least one obstacle to collaboration. These limits hinder the possibility of people working together on basic tasks: exchange of information outside the company (with a customer or a subcontractor), joint publication of a document, and multiplatform access (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
Admittedly, organising work in 2020 has not been easy. On the one hand there has been a multiplication of tasks, a fragmentation of days and a proliferation of devices, and on the other, a real need for agility. Company management must ensure that multidisciplinary teams can work efficiently together in real time on multiple projects, whether at the office or on site.
Many of us have experienced those projects which, because they are consulted by everyone (except by the users themselves) and due to endless wish lists, lose the essentials: users’ technological well-being. In other words, this means giving each user the possibility to use the most suitable solution for their lifestyle: personal and professional. This context comprises numerous parameters: the nature and availability of contacts on a daily basis, the level of nomadism, actual working hours, the type of information exchanged, etc.
The challenge is therefore to allow users to opt for solutions adapted to their everyday life.
Ergonomics: the first ambassador of collaboration in the company
Digital tools play an important role in our lives. We spend a lot of time on them and we expect them to help us be more efficient, more available, more contributory. There are also more of them. Naturally, we cannot spend too much time and energy mastering these devices to reach our goals.
The same applies to company's tools. desktop solutions, sharing systems, corporate networks, etc. New collaborative devices are full of promise. But users need to own them. This is a decisive condition for reaching and exceeding the critical mass needed to deploy them successfully.
Indeed, why start a collaborative and even transformational project, if employees do not adopt the proposed tools? Have they at least approached them? How much effort is needed to integrate them into their daily lives? Do they like them? And what if ergonomics were the key to success?
The user interface is critical to these collaboration tools. The simplicity they offer is crucial. For any device or platform, the design factor conditions an accessible, comprehensive and seamless user experience.
It is necessary to hide the complexity for the user, without depriving them of the most advanced features. This is a major challenge! But it is this simplicity that will promote mass adoption of collaborative tools. A clear, legible and consistent interfaces proposed in all media speeds up individual work and the adoption process by more users and therefore the power of the network. Fewer menus, fewer buttons, fewer clicks, but more action, more efficiency and more users.
This is essential to meet users’ needs. All users. In many respects (productivity, management, quality of work), collaborative tools cannot be designed or reserved for an elite or a specific category of the organisation. We do not share the same love of digital, but tools should not create divisions in the company. When it implements its digital transformation, the organisation must not leave anyone behind. Everyone needs to be on board.
Digital transformation: a technological and cultural process
As states Amara’s Law: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run". This observation also applies to the debate on work of the future.
This is a sensitive subject because work forges our identity to a large degree. And although it seems unlikely that robots will eventually replace us or that we are entering an era of total unemployment, technology will fundamentally change the way we work.
Digital transformation will lead us to develop new skills and new behaviours. It will be a technological and cultural process that will require action by individuals, businesses and policymakers.
At the individual level, technology can help us work more efficiently, but we also need to spend time in contemplation and respect the work-life balance of our colleagues, but also our own.
At the company level, we must establish a smart partnership between machines and humans: machines would take care of administrative tasks so that humans may focus on what they do best, namely innovating and collaborating. Humans must be able to exploit the superpowers of artificial intelligence to their advantage.
This cultural shift is an opportunity for collaborative workspaces to take centre stage as they help remove organisational silos, increase transparency and knowledge sharing, and create a space favourable for internal and external collaboration.
Finalcad helps companies in various sectors, including Construction, Infrastructure and Energy, to build and build themselves by supporting them in safe, profitable and responsible projects. Founded ten years ago by a team of experts with deep industry knowledge, Finalcad has raised $63 million to date and is on the "FT120" list , established in 2021 by the French government, of the 120 start-ups with the best prospects to become global technology leaders.
Finalcad has supported more than 24,000 projects in 35 countries through its solutions: Finalcad One, the platform that transforms in-the-field experience takes advantage of the collaboration capabilities of the best personal instant messaging applications, combined with the power and flexibility of a professional application tracking on-site operations. With Finalcad One, all project participants can work in groups, control the activity in the field and deal with unexpected events.
For more information about Finalcad, visit www.finalcad.com .
Véronique Wasa: +33 (6) 52 22 69 07