[Update to article: Cisco Spark is now Cisco Webex Teams]
The technological expectations of today’s workplace are rapidly changing; to stay competitive, organizations need to keep employees, customers, and suppliers seamlessly connected. The building blocks of a successful business are communication and collaboration; today’s employees expect to be able to work seamlessly from any place, multi-modally. Many older communication platforms cannot meet new demands, and can leave businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
Modern communications systems give you the opportunity to improve collaboration and communication between every part of your organization. For most businesses, changing the core communications system is a once-in-a-decade occurrence. That means this process must be well thought out, tailored specifically towards your organization’s needs, and thoughtfully guided through every step of the transition.
Efficiently increasing agility can give you a major advantage in an evolving technological landscape, and making the move to an advanced collaboration platform can go a long way. There are lots of vendors in this space, and lots of popular tools like Cisco Spark, Slack, or Microsoft Yammer. Let’s take a look at the features of each of these platforms, so you can decide which one is right for your team.
Slack is one popular collaboration service with roots as a messaging application. This app combines multiple tools into one easy-to-access location. Some of the features offered by Slack include real-time messaging, searchable communications archives, the ability to integrate with many external services, file-sharing options, and more.
With this full suite of communication services, you can connect users on any operating system and any device. The channel format of Slack allows users to toggle between asynchronous and synchronous communication from a dashboard with a high ease-of-use level. The default setting for communication is public, allowing for all members of your organization to see the ideas and conversations exchanged by each department.
According to Finances Online’s review of Slack, the big draw of this platform is the large database it builds of conversations between users. This is not just a benefit for current employees who can easily reference previous meetings, communications, or conferences. It also benefits future employees, who can use the database to increase training productivity, decreasing the time it takes to ramp up a new hire.
Yammer is Microsoft’s private online business social network. This open architecture platform is designed to streamline communication between members of your organization. Yammer delivers on its ease-of-use promise, providing users with a design that avoids complicated business tools and features like project and workplace management, scheduling and time-tracking, and workflow monitoring. Those business processes can be handled by a separate package of Microsoft applications which are available separately. Essentially, Yammer is just a social network for business — a single piece of a larger business collaboration solution.
In its review of Yammer, PC Magazine recommends that businesses which require a full suite of features that include management, scheduling, file-sharing, and traditional communications look elsewhere for their solution. This simplified collaboration tool is the best choice for organizations seeking nothing more than an advanced hub where employees can communication with each other in a more seamless fashion.
One benefit of Yammer is it offers a robust free version, which is a great introduction for businesses unsure of transitioning into a new collaboration application. This free account offers all the basic features of Yammer, while the affordable Enterprise Network offers additional security and authorization features as well as advanced controls and support. There are additional, more expensive tiers available, but PC Magazine’s review suggests they seem like a sales pitch for other Microsoft products with Yammer included in the bundle.
Produced by one of the pioneers of the modern telecommunications industry, Cisco’s Spark is one of the best collaboration tools in the industry. This application acts like a virtual office for your employees, and Cisco claims it is the most advanced collaboration suite available. It’s versatile enough to be used with almost any device, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, or conference room equipment.
According to a review of Spark from CommsTrader it “does everything you want to support better teamwork.” The publication also praised the platform for its easy to use interface that is consistent and has an intuitive layout.
Built on Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) infrastructure, Spark provides your team the tools needed to manage workflow and collaborate in real-time. The application suite streamlines scheduling and inviting colleagues to meetings and the apps can assist in collecting, combining, and sharing documents to increase efficiency. Shared files can be viewed, notated, amended, and edited in real time as employees use the unlimited team and one-to-one messaging.
In addition to seamless file sharing, virtual workspaces, and instant messaging, Cisco Spark also offers excellent integrated voice solutions. The collaboration platform can be connected with Cisco’s industry-leading Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UC). Your new messaging and meeting platform can work seamlessly with business class video solutions and HD voice. Because of this, the platform is an especially strong choice for existing Cisco customers, offering a first step in the transition from on-site equipment to cloud-based solutions.
83% of HR leaders report that employee experience is an important factor in your business’s success. Enabling your team to work where, when, and how they want is important to attract and develop the best talent. Carefully listening and responding to the needs of your employees and potential employees allows a company to tailor collaboration tools to meet the needs of workers with the assistance of a managed services provider.
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