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One App for a Total Communications Experience

by Wanda Rich
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App fatigue causes confusion, so businesses should simplify their comms experience

By Rob Carmichael, Workplace Specialists at Avaya

Imagine if the pandemic had happened 10 years ago? Our ability to suddenly shift to virtual “everything” would not have been possible. Today there are lots of apps that have enabled us to continue to do our jobs, although – let’s be honest – online meetings can sometimes be quite a chaotic experience. Meeting times must be coordinated, attendees confirmed, agendas shared all before the meeting gets underway, then the “you’re on mute” and “can anyone not speaking turn off their mics” start. There are promises to send a relevant file over on email after the call but because this action was forgotten, it must be chased-up.

What adds to the less-than-smooth experience is that most organisations use numerous different apps for specific tasks. There’s usually an app for team chat, another for video conferencing, one for a company’s file-sharing platform and another which is a task management tool. If you need to discuss customer information with colleagues, then you must open the CRM and if you work with clients then you also need to switch between the different apps that they prefer to use rather than impose your choice onto them. According to research conducted last year, just two-fifths (41%) of working UK respondents can limit the number of tools, apps and resources they must access to complete a work project to under three. The rest struggle on.

Having too many apps also makes it challenging to keep work discussions and projects in one place rather than scattered over email, storage, and messaging apps. The multi-app world is a complicated ecosystem that can lead to app fatigue. In turn, the confusion from using too many apps results in a range of potential issues from file permissions to missed tasks. After a year of this, businesses are crying out for the whole comms app experience to be simplified.

Workstream Organisation within the Digital Workplace

Instead of numerous different apps, what is needed is a single browser-based app purposely designed to make working from anywhere more productive. This means making it easier to collaborate with colleagues, no matter where they’re working from, so everyone can easily chat, call, share files, start presentations, and delegate tasks all from a central digital workplace without the need to navigate to different apps and remember logins. Access to all data would be in one place, eliminating the need to guess whether a colleague sent over a particular client presentation or not.

A digital workplace is about being able to do more than just connect remotely, as we all know that work is not just what is done within a meeting, but also what happens before and after. Creating a digital meeting room, just like booking the office conference room, happens prior to any meeting with notifications including the subject and agenda shared and put in everyone’s diaries, so that everyone knows where they need to be, when and what’s being discussed. It’s important to be able to easily share invitations with people from outside an organisation and joining must be straight forward, no one should need to download additional apps or involve IT admins – the correct link and a browser should be all that’s required. Once a meeting’s started, sharing files, screens or creating and assigning tasks on-the-fly should be as easy as in the physical world but unlike a physical meeting room, a digital workplace set-up for discussing a specific activity doesn’t need to be cleared when the meeting is over. On the contrary, it is the perfect place to securely store all information relevant to that meeting, saved for future reference for as long as required and available if the virtual meeting room needs to be used again for its specified subject. Following-up a meeting by sharing data and clearing the room are things of the past.

At the end of any meeting, the biggest challenge is keeping track of all the points that were discussed, as well as ensuring that action points are being carried out. Collaboration apps keep track of this stuff but rather than using another app, this capability should be incorporated into the single communications app so that it’s simple to keep track of tasks, who they were assigned to and their deadlines.

The IT Admin’s Perspective

Using separate apps for chat, file sharing, video conferencing and task management is a headache for IT administrators. All the apps must be secured, credentials and licences managed and if employees want to use them on multiple devices or even their own laptops or smartphones, it’s the admin’s job to ensure that the installation can be performed without any issues, and that the data remains secure.

Security is always important, so it’s vital to have randomised meeting IDs and strong passwords and data encrypted both in-transit and at rest. Privacy is also important and digital workplaces should be as private as a shut door in an office with no unexpected guest turning up just because someone has forwarded on their calendar invitation. Original invitees only, password-protected meetings and trackable forwarded invites will help cut down on IT management time.

Compatibility and limits per application can also be a management burden for IT admins. Chat logs may only be limited to a certain amount of text per licence tier and some file sharing applications impose storage limits or file expiry after a certain time. Finally is the issue of integration, a single communications app that covers chat, file sharing, video conferencing and task management should be built on an open and composable platform so that it can be integrated with other services required by a business. In this way, employees will truly be enabled to work anywhere as they can access all their data from Google Workspace, Microsoft Outlook, Office 365, dedicated apps, and more, in one convenient location. Now that’s digital workplace productivity – and all from a single app.