Collaboration Tools in 2021

Collaboration Tools in 2021

Collaboration tools have changed a lot in the last year. COVID-19 may have accelerated this change, but these big moves were coming either way. It’s hard to even remember what the world looked like a year ago.  

Here is a look at collaboration tools in 2021 – from new software to integration upgrades, and more.  

Webex

Cisco is accelerating into the New Year with their unified Webex application concept and is rapidly delivering updates both through internal development and strategic acquisitions that are powering innovations like AI-powered noise cancellation, real-time closed captioning & translations, and next-level audience engagement.

Here’s a quick recap from Webex: “We kept people connected with meetings, messaging, and calling, launched new updates and features, hosted our first WebexOne event, and launched the Webex Community” The Webex Community launched in May of 2020, as a “self-service tool for our users, admins, and adoption champions.”

In 2021, Webex will be hosting three events a month: two Walkthrough Wednesdays – aimed at educating customers and professionals about the latest and greatest Webex tool updates – and one Adoption Spotlight where you’ll hear from Webex customers about their strategies and successes in driving adoption in their teams. 

The 2021 Webex goal is to give their users more “engaging, intelligent, and inclusive experiences.” Users are now able to customize the feel of their workspace with new background color palettes and the ability to tailor their video grids to meet their needs and preferences. And their new immersive share creates a professional, new-program-like experience so that presenters can be seen while also sharing graphics, charts, and other visuals at the same time.

New meeting templates, sophisticated AI-powered message prioritization, and real-time translation are also included in the new Webex software. 2021 will bring a host of new solutions and discussions spearheaded by Webex as they continue to refine and upgrade their collaboration offerings.

Zoom

2020 was the year of Zoom. Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan was even TIME’s 2020 Businessperson of the Year. So what are some of the leaps they made in the collaboration tool sector last year, and what do they have in store for 2021?

Zoom lists these services as some of their biggest 2020 highlights: Zoom Apps (brings apps directly into the Zoom experience), Zoom for Home (helps remote workers outfit home offices with Zoom-enabled devices), OnZoom (virtual events marketplace), Zoom 5.0 (most recent update), and End-to-End Encryption (gives users the ability to host meetings that only chosen participants have access to encryption keys used to encrypt the meeting).

According to the company’s Year in Review, “Some of our most prominent features include spotlighting and multi-pinning video feeds, co-host capabilities for managing Breakout Rooms, the ability to use slides as a virtual background, High-Fidelity Music Mode, and Filters, which give our users the freedom to create a more user-friendly, engaging meeting experience. In-meeting security controls, a new security settings section, and centralized controls allow secure meetings at scale.”

As we move through the beginning of 2021, Zoom will continue to churn out value-add upgrades and initiatives to enhance user experience.

Microsoft Teams

The Teams app from Microsoft is the fastest growing business app in the company’s history, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Microsoft Teams collaborative workspace connects all Microsoft 365 apps, creates a great hub for teams of all sizes, and can even be used as an alternative or replacement for email communications. Without leaving Teams, users can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other file types in real-time.

Microsoft launched Tasks this year, as a Teams-specific replacement for Planner – it combines the functions of Planner and To-Do apps. They also recently added Lists, which “combines database and spreadsheet features to manage information to plan events, track recruitment, or help onboard new employees.”

Some other 2020 additions include “Together mode” which creates a virtual shared environment (conference room, café, etc.) and crops each user’s video feed into a more realistic space. Other features like noise suppression, custom backgrounds, hand raising, and recording were introduced or enhanced this year.

In December 2020, Microsoft posted a “What’s New in Microsoft Teams” article, listing all of their recent changes that will gain momentum in 2021.

Those new features include:

  •  Virtual Breakout Rooms – allows meeting organizers to divide the meeting into smaller groups to allow for specialized discussions
  • End-of-Meeting Notifications
  • Pre-Join Experience
  • New Supported Languages – enables users to
  • translate Japanese, Korean, French, French-Canadian, Spanish, Spanish-Mexican, Traditional Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Hindi-Indian, Portuguese-Brazilian, and Russian into up to 50 different languages
  • Multiple Number Dialing
  • Live Captions for 1:1 Calls

Collaboration Tools in 2021 – Tailored Solutions

2021 is the time to channel all the big move momentum you created in 2020 and refine it to help your business better reach and serve its customers. Explore Meet Me In The Cloud’s managed services and collaboration services.

Whether you need training and education, event assistance, or other collaboration-based support and services, contact us today.

Making the Most of Slack: Best Practices

Making the Most of Slack: Best Practices

Like any collaboration tool, Slack has unique advantages and disadvantages when compared to other tools like Microsoft Teams or Webex. But a collaboration tool is only as good as its user. Here are some best practices and tips that can crank your Slack game – and productivity – up a notch.

Broadcast Your Availability and Expectations

Just because you are using Slack’s chat abilities for work doesn’t mean you have to exclude all traces of who you are and how you work.

Make sure your profile is complete with your information: name, professional title, phone number, and other non-Slack contact information if applicable.

Another best practice is to let people know when you’re online. Fill in the hours you expect to work, and be sure to update this when things come up or change, like personal emergencies or time off. This helps manage your colleagues’ and employees’ expectations for when you will be available to respond to queries and issues.

You can also use your Status for more than introductions and other static items. Use this area to post updates on team activity, sick days, and vacation time as well.

Threads and Channel Management

Channels and threads can be used in a myriad of ways to organize and archive important conversations, upcoming tasks, and more.

Pay attention to channel headers. Hopefully, the headers provide succinct and informative descriptions, with any action items, to steer other users to the correct channels when they are using the platform themselves.

You can also start a thread to keep your channel more organized while exploring specific conversations or topics within Slack.

Don’t Forget About Flags and Reminders

To keep track of action items, another Slack best practice is to click on the star to flag items that you may want to come back to later or things you need to complete and then report on later.

If you are in the middle of something important and you’re checking other threads, don’t fret – you can use Slack to set reminders so you can come back later and address an issue of you are too busy at the moment.

Remember the Golden Rule(s)

One common issue that is found in all chat-based collaboration tools, is miscommunication caused by the text-only exchanges. Which means you must do two things. The first is to temper all of your messages with a kind and unassuming tone. If there are questionable phrases that could be misconstrued by your team members, rewrite or remove them. And make sure to give your team members the benefit of the doubt when reading their messages. Frustration and confusion can be misinterpreted and feel aggressive or combative, but escalating the situation will only lead you further from your goal.

And if you have issues or are unsure which thread or channel a specific message should go in, don’t be afraid to ask! Check out this article from the RescueTime blog for some quick tips.

Need Help With Training or Implementation?

Need help organizing or educating your global team? Meet Me In The Cloud is your go-to resource for white glove training and support for collaboration services and tools.

Whether you need training and education, event assist, or other collaboration-based support and service, contact us today.

Handling Post-COVID Collaboration Tool Issues

Handling Post-COVID Collaboration Tool Issues

You think your collaboration environment is set, but is it? With new collaboration tools and remote work protocols, increasing utilization and identifying hidden issues that prevent full efficiency is your next challenge. Meet Me In The Cloud can help.

The Struggle of Moving Forward Post-COVID

2020 is a year no business could plan for. At the start of the year, you likely had evaluated meetings and team collaboration tools for use in your business operations. Then the pandemic hit in March and your organization rushed to get the necessary tools and functionality out to all your users so they could work from home in a matter of days.

That was 6 months ago. You’ve resolved the connectivity and bandwidth issues, the VPN overload problems, and you’ve (sort of) figured out the “who is watching/teaching the kids” schedule. These“temporary” measures are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

In a study done by Slack, new and experienced remote workers were surveyed about the impact this new remote landscape has had on their work. 

Two big trends emerged: 

  1. Those who are new to remote work are struggling to regain their previous levels of productivity and communication.
  2. Collaboration tools can help alleviate these issues and additionally curb feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection during this time

We’ve made it through the rush and things are settling into a new normal, but now it’s time to help your employees increase their utilization of collaboration software (Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, etc.). How do you get them to start using all the bells and whistles that come with these new tools?

The Second Wave of User Frustration

We are still working remotely and will be in the foreseeable future.  Last spring, you rushed employees through basic tools if they were lucky. If they weren’t lucky, you handed them the tools, everyone set up their home offices and you and your staff buckled down and tried to muddle through these new communication channels on your own, without any guidance or support.

But now that the proverbial dust has settled a bit, the previously ignored issues are bubbling to the surface. Your staff members start telling you they are tired of online meetings all day. They still have issues with sound, using (or not using) headsets, adjusting the webcam to just the right angle, finding a quiet place to work, knowing how to share various content files (videos, slides, and whiteboards).  They muddle along but you know and they know: there must be a better way.

There is only so much Googling and Q&A searching you can do when it comes to working out the kinks of your and your employees’ individual pitfalls within these collaboration platforms. And flooding the IT department with small requests or spending hours in video conferences trying to troubleshoot each problem is a waste of time and valuable resources.

How About An Easy Fix?

Have you thought there may be an organization dedicated to helping people collaborate online effectively? Or a team that will address each individual user and their specific issues or skill gaps?

Consider a free, informal consultative discussion with Meet Me In The Cloud, a company dedicated to finding and removing these obstacles to increased tool utilization and improved employee efficiency and ultimately employee satisfaction.  It might even reduce your support calls to the help desk!

Meet Me In The Cloud is a global leader in adoption services and scalable solutions that help organizations compete, grow, and succeed with collaboration tools. Questions? Contact us today.

Collaboration and E-Learning

Collaboration and E-Learning

Collaboration software makes tackling collective projects much more efficient, but it doesn’t work unless your employees know how to use it. That’s where e-learning comes in.

Making the Decision to Migrate 

Have you already implemented a collaboration software but you don’t feel everyone has adopted this new technology? Are you trying to find the right way to introduce new software? No matter what stage of the process your employees are at, e-learning can help.

Adoption is Not Easy

Migrating from older technology to something new and shiny is hard. You want everyone to dive in and start using this wonderful new tool you’ve provided, but not everyone is convinced it’s worth their time. Or, more commonly, employees have adopted a part of the new software, but are still clinging to parts of the old process. 

According to Forbes, there’s one reason collaboration tools fail in the workplace: lack of planning for social adoption.

E-Learning Can Help

Underutilizing technology is like buying a luxury yacht for the sound system: you’re wasting time and money by not taking advantage of everything you paid for. Technology is a big driver of efficiency in the workplace, but it’s only as good as its user. 

An engaged, informed workforce will not only increase the positive outcomes, but it will also decrease the negatives. 

Close Skill Gaps

Your employees all have different levels of understanding and ability when it comes to learning new technology, which means a large-scale rollout may have to be scrapped in favor of a more targeted approach. One of the most common migration challenges is skill gaps. Good training is the best way to close those gaps. 

Prevent Data Loss and Corruption

Data loss and corruption are more common when employees are running duplicate solutions at the same time: if they are using the old system and learning the new, it’s easier to make costly mistakes, and harder to catch them. 

Accelerate Adoption

E-learning courses focus on specific areas to help you and your team learn how to use your new collaboration platform. Interactive elements like videos and quizzes give employees a more well-rounded experience, allowing for some hands-on learning. 

E-learning courses also create a multi-level education system, meaning each employee can take specific courses created for their job level. 

All of this is in addition to the tried and tested instructions that are organized into helpful steps so your employees don’t feel overwhelmed.

Collaboration and E-Learning

With e-learning, employees have the tools to tailor their training to their own learning style and skill level. For those who need a top-to-bottom course on the communication software, a longer and more in-depth E-Learning Course is most helpful. For more tech-savvy team members, short, on-demand training videos (like those found in our Microlearning Library) are perfect as a refresher course or for filling small knowledge gaps.

Meet Me in the Cloud has a wealth of e-learning offerings to help accelerate the adoption process of your new collaboration platform by offering an interactive approach to learning Webex, Zoom, Microsoft Teams. Our offerings simplify each platform for you and your organization, so everyone can start using the new platform quickly and easily – at their own pace.

Allowing employees to take control of their collaboration education will not only lower costs and speed up adoption, but it will also give them a more positive work-life view. Take a look through all of our e-learning solutions

 

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6 Common Migration Challenges and How to Solve Them

6 Common Migration Challenges and How to Solve Them

Many companies that pursue a technology migration on their own in an effort to save money deal with a host of challenges. They don’t take the time or complete the planning and training they need for a successful migration. Save your leadership team (and employees) the headache with these tips.

Skill Gaps

Whenever you roll out new tech in your organization, there are bound to be skill gaps in your workforce. IT staff and end-users and accustomed to the legacy solution, which likely works and looks very different from the new solution you’re in the process of migrating to. This is normal, but that doesn’t mean you can roll out new solutions and just wait for your employees to figure it out. That costs time, which costs your company money.

To fill these skill gaps, you need training. Training and education efforts not only save you time implementing the new solution, but it also provides your employees with the confidence to use the solution and in their work overall. Not only does training help ensure that you receive a high ROI, but it also benefits your workforce on an individual level.

No Roadmap

A roadmap is a high-level visual plan that lays out your migration strategy. Without it, your team won’t be able to make sound strategic decisions concerning the migration. Or, worse, they will migrate your solution without a strategy in mind. This can lead to an ineffective migration.

Another problem companies face when migrating a solution without a roadmap is that there are no timelines. If there are timelines, they are inaccurate and the migration falls behind, which can potentially cause more problems later on.

To resolve this issue, it’s important to develop a roadmap at the beginning of the migration process, before any data has been moved. Then make sure the team fulfilling the migration is following the roadmap.

Deadlines and details can change, but a high-level, strategy-focused roadmap is key to a successful migration.

Reduced Productivity 

During the migration, your workforce will likely be using two solutions, the old and the new. This means that with every update to one document, file, channel, etc., it needs to be updated on both solutions to keep everyone in the loop. This duplication process is time-consuming and the redundancy can be confusing for users, but it may be necessary.

It’s also important to note that if your team fulfills the migration in-house, those employees will have double the responsibility and the same amount of time and energy, which means their other tasks will be sidelined during the migration. 

To limit the impact on your workforce’s productivity during the migration, shorten the migration time. One way to do this is to hire a migration expert, like from Meet Me In The Cloud, to manage the process. 

Another way to reduce the impact on your workforce’s productivity is to complete the migration while your workforce isn’t working. For example, over a weekend or holiday break. Smaller migrations can often be completed during these timeframes, though it does require the employees performing the migration to work on the weekend or holiday. 

Data Loss and Corruption

When duplicate solutions are running simultaneously during the migration process, there is a greater risk for data loss and corruption. The longer the migration process takes, the greater the risk. If data is corrupted or lost during the migration, it makes it harder to restore that data. 

To avoid data loss and corruption during migration, you will need to backup all data. You will also need to determine the best way to store the data before the migration and have a plan for migrating the data in phases. Following a solid plan can reduce data loss and corruption. 

Noncompliance

Each solution has its own properties and benefits, but not all solutions prioritize compliance. Without reviewing what each vendor provides in terms of compliance, you can potentially violate compliance requirements.

If compliance is important to your business, then you need to review each solution to ensure the one you choose meets regulatory compliance requirements. This means asking vendors how data is stored and accessed, how end-users are supported, if the vendor logs all end-user activities, and more. 

Misaligned Goals

Often, business leaders want to replicate legacy systems in the new solution, but this defeats the purpose of the migration. No two systems work the same, so this sets up the entire migration for failure. Misaligned goals combined with unmet expectations turn the entire migration into a washout, leaving everyone frustrated.

To avoid this challenge, it’s important to have a discovery process before migrating. During this process, your leadership team needs to evaluate the old system for what is and isn’t working, and what other capabilities your business needs now or in the future. From there, your migration team or partner can design a plan to align the strategy with your leadership’s goals.

Learn more about our Migration Services at this link.

Is It Time to Migrate Your Collaboration Solution?

Is It Time to Migrate Your Collaboration Solution?

When it comes to your workforce’s collaboration efforts, you likely rely on in-person collaboration and legacy solutions that require bulky hardware or frequent software installations. But with work-from-home (WFH) initiatives and team members on the go, it may be time to migrate to a better collaboration solution that meets your business’s needs.

What is Migration?

Before we discuss the reasons for migrating, it’s important to understand what migration is. Migration is the act of upgrading to new hardware, new software, or both. This process involves moving data and capabilities from the legacy solution to the new solution. While this process seems simple, it’s not. Migrations are often complicated and intricate endeavors that are time-consuming for your team if you choose to implement them in-house. 

The migration process ensures that the new operating environment is functional, secure, and usable by your team. This involves a review of your legacy application and its settings as well as setting up the new solution. 

Types of Migrations

There are many different types of technology migrations, including:

  • Database and data migration
  • Application migration
  • Cloud migration
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software migration
  • Operating System (OS) migration
  • Content Management System (CMS) migration
  • IT infrastructure migration

At Meet Me In The Cloud, we specialize in collaboration solutions migration, which is typically an application or cloud migration, depending on what solution you choose.

Reasons for Migration

If migrations are typically challenging, then why do companies do it? Why don’t they continue to use their legacy collaboration solutions indefinitely? Here’s why companies migrate to better solutions:

The Legacy Solution is Deprecated or Obsolete

If your workforce is using an outdated collaboration solution, it may be deprecated or obsolete. If it’s “deprecated,” that means it’s still a good solution for now, but it won’t be for long. That solution will likely be obsolete when a new solution is launched. If a solution is “obsolete,” then your workforce can no longer use it. 

For solutions that are either deprecated or obsolete, there is little or no support from the vendor, which means if something goes wrong, it may never get fixed. This can lead to data loss and cybersecurity vulnerability. 

The Legacy Solution Does Not Fulfill New Needs

Your business is flexible and adapts to the ever-changing market and the needs of your customers. You need a collaboration solution with modern capabilities that simplifies communication and work processes for your workforce. 

If your business demands new capabilities from your collaboration solution and the vendor can’t keep up with your request, it may be time to migrate. 

You Need to Consolidate

If your workforce is using multiple collaboration solutions, it creates a messy, inefficient process for everyone involved. Data can be siloed or lost and employees waste time connecting to multiple solutions. 

To resolve these issues, you need to consolidate to one collaboration solution. You will likely need to migrate to a new one to do so because if your team is currently using multiple solutions, none of them are probably meeting all of your needs.

You Need Room to Grow

Your growing business needs room to grow, including in your collaboration solutions. Most legacy solutions limit users or storage space in some way and may incur additional costs when you do grow, if they can accommodate your growth.

Most modern collaboration solutions are now hosted in the cloud, which provides you with scalability and flexibility, accommodating to your ever-changing needs.

Your Workforce Uses Multiple Devices

If your employees WFH or work on the go, they likely use multiple devices to complete tasks and collaborate with their teams. Legacy collaboration solutions are limited to specific devices, but solutions in the cloud can be accessed anywhere from any device, enabling your workforce to work on the go in real-time.

You Need Increased Security 

Security is likely one of your top concerns, but your legacy collaboration solutions may not meet your security standards. Most legacy solutions that were rolled out within the past decade or earlier weren’t created with the same security measures we have today. Cyber threats are constantly evolving and new technologies are accomodating to those changes to protect your data. Your legacy solution probably isn’t adapting as fast, if at all. 

Is It Time to Migrate?

If you can identify with one or more of the reasons above, then it’s time to migrate to a new collaboration solution. Don’t go through that process alone. Learn more about our Migration Services at this link

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