Small miscommunications can have enormous consequences. Consider the case of the Mars Climate Orbiter.
Launched by NASA in late 1998 to study the Martian climate, the $125 million space probe was built through the collaborative efforts of many public and private contributors. However, the firm that built the craft used the imperial system of measurement while the firm that built the navigation system used the metric system. This led to a trajectory miscalculation that caused the craft to disintegrate upon entering the Mars atmosphere at an overly steep angle.
Miscommunication among colleagues and teams in the workplace can also have devastating effects such as increased stress, missed deadlines, lost sales and stalled careers. Very often, these communication breakdowns occur due to the extreme proliferation of applications and platforms that are supposed to improve workplace communication and collaboration.
Industry analysts refer to this as the “collaboration paradox” — the more collaboration tools we use, the less effective our collaboration becomes. In one recent survey of IT decision-makers, 83.5 percent reported that collaboration tools in their company differ by department and are not used across the entire organization. This leads to high levels of frustration and inefficiency among employees who must continually switch between multiple applications in order to complete work.
An emerging class of integrated collaboration solutions can improve communication by reducing fragmentation and enabling organization-wide collaboration on a standardized toolset. Solutions such as Cisco Webex Teams feature tight integration of messaging, web and video conferencing, whiteboarding, document management, file sharing and other features in a single, user-friendly platform.
The fragmentation of collaboration tools is largely the result of the organic growth of these solutions. In most organizations, individual departments began enhancing team collaboration by adding messaging and file-sharing capabilities to their existing systems. Over time, they also began taking advantage of cloud-based services such as Dropbox, Box, WhatsApp, HipChat, and many others — all of which compete with any officially sanctioned collaboration applications already in the workplace.
Because these disparate apps lack interoperability, people often use multiple tools to connect with different audiences. One study found that workers are using an average of four separate collaboration applications, although it isn’t uncommon to have six or more. More than two-thirds of those surveyed (70 percent) said these apps generate so much real-time communication they make it challenging to get work done.
Integrated collaboration solutions are meant bring some order to this chaos by enabling users to access voice, conferencing, instant messaging and more without separate logins, dial-ins or passcodes, and instantly share notes, calendar events and new tasks with a single click.
For instance, Webex Teams creates secure virtual workspaces where users across departmental boundaries can collaborate easily, even if they primarily use other collaboration tools. Webex Teams features native integration for apps from Microsoft, Google Cloud and Salesforce, and the WebEx App Hub makes it simple to integrate other apps from vendors such as Service Now, Trello, Asana and Jira.
Collaboration tools are supposed to foster teamwork and improve workflows, but a fragmented environment comprising too many disconnected tools can ultimately discourage collaboration and lead to miscommunication. By incorporating all essential tools in one platform with the ability to integrate a range third-party apps, integrated collaboration solutions such as Webex Teams help ensure everyone is on the same page.