Jun 17 2024
Digital Workspace

Modern Collaboration Tech Is Better Than Ever

In a global world, optimized communication solutions break down barriers and empower companies to do more.

Overhead Door, a national garage door manufacturer based in Texas, has more than 100 sites across the country, so employee collaboration is complex — and getting it right is critical to business success. Fortunately, teamwork has improved over the past several years as employees eagerly adopted remote collaboration tools, says CIO Larry Freed.

“We had to pivot in a matter of weeks and scale up our collaboration environment at the start of the pandemic,” Freed says. “That was the impetus driving people to use it, but then it exploded to the point that people today are dependent on it. Over the past six to 12 months, the demand for conference room capabilities has gone up significantly.”

Overhead Door primarily uses Cisco Webex, though it also takes advantage of integrations with Microsoft Teams tools such as SharePoint and OneDrive. It maintains several conference rooms with various tech setups, including Webex Board Pro displays ranging from 55 to 75 inches. The company’s largest conference room features two 98-inch digital displays and a Webex Room Kit with multiple cameras.

“Our employees have Webex running on their mobile devices, which sync with their laptops,” Freed says. “They can start a chat and then escalate that to a meeting. That goes all the way to companywide town halls, meetings with suppliers and customers, and training sessions with breakout rooms and audience participation tools.”

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How Cisco Webex Helps Overhead Door Workers Do More

Freed says that the organization continues to unlock new capabilities in its Webex environment. Through Webex Control Hub, the IT team can troubleshoot, administer and manage the platform, quickly hunting down the source of audio or video lags. Employees are increasingly using Webex transcription, and the company is investigating a feature that sends voicemail transcripts to employees’ email accounts.

“The technology has proved itself to the point that the adoption and use has been mostly grassroots-driven,” Freed says. “People have really seen the benefit of it.”

While nearly all organizations have adopted collaboration technology, business and IT leaders must focus on the people aspect of collaboration in order to optimize their environments, says Wayne Kurtzman, research vice president for social, communities and collaboration at IDC.

“The biggest complaint that I hear is people reading on one channel and responding in another,” says Kurtzman. “That breaks up the power of collaboration.”

Larry Freed, Overhead Door


Outside of the financial industry, few may have heard of the global firm Broadridge Financial Solutions. But the company manages proxy votes for investors, processes trades and may even be in charge of printing and mailing your monthly cellphone bill.

So, it is vital that Broadridge’s collaboration systems continue to seamlessly connect employees, managers and external stakeholders, even in times of turmoil, says Jonathan Belfiore, the company’s director of unified communications architecture. Broadridge leverages both Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams. While Teams supports the firm’s internal meetings and messaging, the company also maintains more than 100 conference rooms outfitted with Webex Room devices.

“We’ve always had a hybrid work model,” Belfiore says. The rise of remote work “showed that our investments had paid off, because our systems never went down. We didn’t skip a beat.”

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How the Right Collaboration Tech Drives Inclusion

Kurtzman suggests that companies set up “collaboration councils” that include stakeholders from across the organization to normalize expectations and codify collaboration culture. “That mentoring and modeling facilitates teamwork at a much greater level,” he says.

At Broadridge, collaboration is fueling effective remote and hybrid work models and connecting far-flung teams. The company’s Webex conference rooms have hosted 15,000 meetings in the past year alone, and Belfiore says that the technology has led to seamless collaboration between in-person and remote workers, something that has been a sticking point at companies with less robust collaboration environments.

“Webex makes it very easy,” Belfiore says. “It always shows everybody in the room. Also, we’ve gotten to a point where the room automatically turns on. People just go up to the screen and tap the picture of the meeting type they’re joining. It keeps it very simple.”

“You’ll never replace the in-person human interaction,” Belfiore adds. “But what you can do is make it as easy and inclusive as possible.”

Jonathan Belfiore, Broadridge Financial Solutions


Broadridge’s collaboration tools have even helped support mergers, which are more common in the financial services industry than in most others.

Cumbersome technology can sometimes create friction during mergers, Belfiore notes, but he says that Teams and Webex help new employees to “hit the ground running” while also optimizing costs for the company.

“The last thing you want people to worry about is whether or not the technology is going to work,” he says. “Rather than forcing them to use technologies that make them feel excluded, you want to make their lives easier. Webex and Teams help us fill that gap.”

GO FURTHER: Learn to optimize the employee experience during hybrid meetings. 

Collaboration Tech Helps Companies Manage Rapid Growth

Over the past year, Basys, a nationwide payment solutions company based in Kansas, has grown its employee headcount by 50 percent, to 180 people. Most of these employees are in the office at least one or two days per week, but not everyone is in at the same time, and Microsoft Teams has helped existing and new workers to forge connections and work together productively, says Basys President Edwin Martin.

“Teams allows employees to meet people that they wouldn’t have necessarily met before,” Martin says. “To be successful here, you need to like working with other people. We have a culture of talking to people and asking for help. Teams has made that a lot easier.”


The portion of employees who have experienced burnout as a result of poor teamwork

Source: Mural, “The Real, Actual, No BS State of Teamwork in 2024,” February 2024

Another benefit, Martin says, is that Teams has helped Basys to consolidate much of its collaboration environment onto a single platform. Previously, the company was using one solution for email, another for persistent chat and still another for videoconferencing. “We had to maintain multiple different licenses, and that just wasn’t optimal,” Martin says. “We don’t have a huge IT shop, so trying to manage all of that overhead was really quite difficult. With Teams, we have a one-stop shop.”

Where Teams really shines is in enabling business outcomes, such as improved training sessions that lead to increased sales, Martin says. Previously, outside sales representatives sometimes had difficulty understanding the nuances of new product offerings. With Teams, sales staff can remotely attend demonstrations to see exactly what the features do.

“Instead of just telling them that we have a new invoice tool, we can actually show them how it works,” he says. “We can show them why it’s valuable to our customers.”

How Collaboration Tools Have Embraced AI

Although most organizations are still struggling to figure out how to embed artificial intelligence into their own business models, they can take advantage of the AI features that have already made their way into collaboration platforms. “The promise of AI is fascinating,” says Wayne Kurtzman, research vice president for social, communities and collaboration at IDC. “Businesses can see immediate benefits.”

  • Meeting recaps: Going beyond mere verbatim transcriptions, collaboration platforms now offer AI-powered features that automatically generate notes, summaries and suggested actions.
  • Translation: Sometimes offered as a premium feature, AI-generated translations for dozens of languages can break down barriers and help to connect team members from around the globe.
  • Improved audio: In the world of AI, there are no noisy space heaters or barking dogs in the background. Emerging AI features isolate and enhance the dominant sound on a call and eliminate ambient noise.
  • Customer satisfaction: In the contact center, AI is powering topic analytics and automatic customer satisfaction scores, allowing companies to rapidly analyze large amounts of data to help them improve agent performance and optimize the customer experience.

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