How To Get More Done With Fewer But Smarter Communication Tools

With remote work here to stay, it's time for companies to reevaluate hasty implementations and streamline communication tools.

The rapid shift to remote work last year forced businesses to make equally rapid decisions about the tools and platforms that they use to help employees stay productive and collaborative—some of which were not enterprise-ready and many of which overlap. With remote work here to stay, it’s time for companies to reevaluate hasty implementations and streamline communication tools.McKinsey’s recent report on “The Next Normal” reiterated this point: “The Covid-19 crisis has created an imperative for companies to reconfigure their operations — and an opportunity to transform them. To the extent that they do so, greater productivity will follow.”

The tools we use at work have a massive impact on our productivity—or lack thereof—so it’s important we choose the right ones. This includes using cloud-based technology that is easily scaled up and down, centralizing communications so workers aren’t spending time flipping between applications and understanding the importance of AI to help bring everything together.

It’s time to reevaluate the hasty software purchases made at the start of the pandemic to ensure your teams have the correct tools to be successful.

Communicating Through The Cloud

The cloud is a critical component of a modern, unified communications platform. Not only does the cloud provide the scale and flexibility necessary for today’s distributed workforce, but it can also solve a lot of today’s biggest communication pain points. While it can be daunting moving off of legacy technologies, especially if you’re moving off legacy hardware for the first time, the benefits of cloud-based platforms far outweigh the migration process.

One major factor when you’re planning your cloud migration strategy is how much downtime there will be during the transition. If you’re running a call center, for example, you can’t simply turn it off. It’s crucial that you choose the right service provider for a smooth transition and create an effective plan that addresses any gaps or issues that may arise. While that’s still a huge leap, once you are up and running on the cloud, certain built-in redundancies like a split-cloud architecture can eliminate scheduled downtime and help keep businesses running consistently.

The cloud also gives way to APIs and product integrations that eliminate the need to switch between apps and channels. The popular JIRA integration with Slack changed developer workflows for the better, and now we have that same opportunity within the business communications realm. The cloud enables connection from all your CRM, sales engagement and workflow automation tools to data from all voice and text communications, finally enabling companies to tap into the underutilized data source that is voice.

Getting More Out Of Communication With AI

It’s not just about fewer communication tools but tools that are making people smarter. Voice communication is ripe with insights, but from group and one-to-one meetings to outbound sales conversations and inbound service calls, without a record, indispensable information is lost. Action items are forgotten, decisions remain unclear and customer sentiment is elusive.

Many companies have already built strong data shops, but just don’t want to use a different proprietary reporting tool for all the software they use. These more advanced firms have their own Business Intelligence tools, like Snowflake or Looker, and are looking to consolidate everything there. However, information from video and voice meetings has historically been missing from these data programs. The solution is finding a business communications platform that can provide this raw data in a usable format.

For others, developing an AI strategy might still seem out of grasp, but technology has progressed over the last few years to enable companies to build robust AI and data analytics programs without the need for data scientists or AI experts. Then, it’s just a matter of finding the platform that can provide its own analytics.

Once you’ve found the process that works best for you to incorporate AI into your communications, voice becomes a rich, actionable dataset, and the value of communication is truly unlocked. Leveraging AI enables communications platforms to generate smarter action and decisions by automating tasks and assisting employees—not just after the fact but also in real time—on any call and in each meeting. So, on top of time saved, the insights hidden in voice interactions can potentially generate significant cost savings and increased sales.

Supporting The Next Normal

After almost one year of remote work, we’ve begun to shape what’s next. Supporting employees now doesn’t mean giving them more tools, but rather more efficient ways to communicate. There are no more hours in the day; increased productivity comes from using those hours better.

By Craig Walker I Forbes Councils Member I Forbes Technology Council - first published at Mar 24, 2021