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Connect Remote Employees with Social Collaboration Tools

Over the past five years we’ve seen some pretty drastic changes in the modern workforce. According to a recent study by Small Business Labs of independent workers, 71% cited selecting be an independent worker because they have greater control over their own schedule. For today’s companies and employees – it’s all about flexibility. Lucky for us since the Great Recession, advances in technology have made this dream much more of a reality. Today, employees no longer have to be in the same location to feel connected.

One such technology that is helping pave the way for the next evolution in the workforce is social collaboration. According to an American Open Forum piece by Sharlyn Lauby, the social collaboration software market “was a $600 million industry in 2010, but it’s estimated to reach $6.4 billion in 2016” – that’s just four short years from now.

“Many of us live life like this: Correspond via e-mail with Mom for Dad’s birthday, text friend about where to meet for dinner, conference call with five co-workers all working to revise one document,” says Sarah Evans, chief evangelist at collaboration platform Tracky. But it doesn’t have to be this way, “You can actually streamline all of the above” with some of the new social collaboration tools out there.

Take for example SAP-owned SuccessFactors, a leading provider of cloud-based business execution software. They produce Jam, a social learning and collaboration platform. Jam’s goal is to make sharing and finding relevant information and experts inside a company easy. “Jam provides simple-to-use video and screen captures so users can easily record and share their expertise,” says Charles DeNault, director of product marketing at SuccessFactors.

How do you know if social collaboration tools are right for you? Evans offers up an accurate picture of a social collaboration user. The ideal user is “most likely dying a slow and painful e-mail death and suffering from app-fatigue; buried under the weight of too much over-communication and struggling to manage a busy life in too many platforms.” Sound at all familiar?

While there’s no doubt that social collaboration tools increase employee productivity and increase collaboration, there is a problem: getting everyone involved. From creating and populating user profiles, to placing people in the right groups – getting everyone connected can present a substantial challenge. “Companies are looking for a platform with a very low learning curve,” says Darryl Myers, vice president of business development at Wiggio. “We’ve found that if someone doesn’t immediately understand how to navigate a new platform, they won’t continue to use it, unless they are forced to, which leads to a negative user experience.” Wiggio take their collaboration tool development a step further by testing them on fourth graders to ensure that it’s easy and intuitive.

Social collaboration software has the potential to greatly enhance employee and customer communication and we all know that having strong lines of communication are the foundation to a winning strategy. They help increase employee productivity and foster a better customer experience. The key is identifying the right social collaboration platform for your organization’s needs and devoting time on the front end to ensure people are trained and brought online. It’s these kinds of efforts that will make your social collaboration initiative successful. Lauby puts it best by saying, “It’s this kind of investment that could yield significant results for the company in profits.”

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