Collaboration Tech Breaks Barriers, Transforms Business

May 1, 2018 Erik Sherman

In a global business environment, collaboration across geographic and time boundaries makes the difference between success and failure. People at an organization must work together to perform basic tasks, cooperate with business partners, and fuel the innovation that companies need. Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and advanced display hardware enable organizations to build teams across boundaries of all sorts.

Collaboration is a requirement for modern business. It is a key to innovation. Working together is a basic necessity when design, engineering, marketing, finance, and operational groups can be spread out across the world.

3 Challenges of Getting Together

But today’s global environment creates three tough challenges for two key components of collaboration: meeting management and communications.

The first challenge is geography. People live and work all over the world. Organizations operate in multiple regions within a country or frequently across national boundaries. Pulling together people in one room is frequently impossible.

Second challenge: language. Many people are multilingual but far from all. Even when people do speak and read more than one language, they will have varying levels of competency. Some terms, or entire stretches of discussion, may be difficult to understand.

Finally, there is the challenge of interactivity. In any type of meeting room, one person is up at a board while others watch. True collaboration needs to enable input, whether speaking or writing, from multiple participants.

Advanced technology helps organizations and vendors bridge the gaps.

How Digital Collaboration Works

One example of using digital technologies to make full collaboration possible is Vestel Interactive Collaboration Cloud. Organizations can enhance productivity, promote collaboration, strengthen communications, and enhance operational efficiency.

The system provides a self-contained interactive display and cloud-based business services, as shown in Figure 1 below. The display's large 65" format, 4K Ultra HD (UHK) resolution, and USB camera with Skype for Business combine to create a high-quality visual experience. Intel Unite® software running on an Intel cloud makes screen-sharing in a meeting room possible for any client device that uses an Intel® Core vPro chip.

Figure 1. The Vestel Meeting Collaboration Cloud offers a wealth of features for collaboration.

This design addresses basic questions of collaboration. The displays serve as a contact point to the cloud services. A meeting room or classroom with a display offers a door into the collaboration process. The display can share its screen with client devices within the room, ensuring that everyone takes part in the collaboration and solving the interactivity problem of collaboration.

At the same time, each meeting room can connect to others. Using the door metaphor, the people in the different rooms can open their doors into the cloud, where they can exchange communications in various ways, including mirrored writing and presentations, images, shared business apps, and teleconferencing. That, in turn, addresses geographic issues.

Any organization can use Vestel Meeting Collaboration Cloud because the solution is scalable. “There isn’t any minimum organization size needed,” said Barış Ökesli, Deputy General Manager at VESTEL TICARET A.S. “It enables any size organization to expand its reach through cloud collaboration.” The availability to any organization is important, given that even small businesses often find themselves dealing with clients, suppliers, and partners around the globe.

Simplicity Is Mandatory

If scale is important, making use easy in every possible way is even more so. People don’t use equipment that is too difficult to set up and run. Issues of complexity were a downfall of old-fashioned teleconferencing systems. Too many problems in setup and operation made them expensive sets of undependable hardware.

Vestel, for example, looks at simplicity in three different ways. One is at the basic hardware level. Users need only plug in the power cord and connect to a network. Everything else is self-contained.

Ease of setup extends to a second area, which is operation. People can use the display with a special pen or with their hands, which makes the user interface natural to most people’s experiences.

The third factor is software. The more familiar the software, the less time participants need getting up to speed.

To this end, users have access to standard Microsoft business productivity apps through Microsoft’s cloud and Office 365. Microsoft Whiteboard software enables drawing, writing (with handwriting recognition), and images to be included. People can write, sketch, and add photos, with participants on all ends of a session able to work with one another on the same visual materials and then sharing the results as live links or by exporting them as images.

Advanced Capabilities to Collaborative Power

Collaboration doesn’t have to stop with whatever methods companies have used in the past. With machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence, it becomes possible for collaboration to reach new levels of sophistication.

An enormous one that helps the language barrier is machine translation. Microsoft Translator machine translation is also available on the cloud. “On-the-fly machine translation fosters communication with businesses and helps in multilingual meetings,” Ökesli said.

The combination of translation with AI is particularly powerful. If someone uploads a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting, AI in the cloud examines words that might be difficult for non-native speakers to understand and then translates them in the presentation automatically. The software can provide multiple simultaneous translations to match the needs of participants.

AI also speeds the presentation process by examining the content entered via handwriting recognition. Graphics are an important part of communication and presentations. If someone uploads a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting, cloud-based AI examines words that might be difficult for non-native speakers to understand and then translates them in the presentation automatically.

Rethinking Collaboration

Today’s organizations, whether in business, education, or government, face the challenge of enabling collaboration and training in geographically diverse operations. There are technical tools that can help, but only when the right ones are employed.

In a global world, collaboration tools must address the hurdles of geography, language, and interactivity. But today’s global environment creates three tough challenges for meeting management and communications: geography, language, and interactivity.

Organizations can use solutions like the Vestel Interactive Collaboration Cloud to overcome the three barriers and enable better collaboration.

About the Author

Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman is a journalist, analyst, and consultant with a background in engineering, technology, and business management. He's written about such topics as semiconductors, enterprise software, logistics, software development, advertising technology, scientific instruments, biotechnology, economics, finance, marketing, and public policy.

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