Collaboration is evolving away from purely document-centric platforms towards solutions that connect us through many different activities. Document collaboration is being replaced by real-time collaboration tools, changing the way we think about information management. Certainly, documents are not going away — but documents are becoming a relatively small portion of the knowledge being captured through our day-to-day activities. We now view collaboration as a multi-medium activity, including documents, system-generated transactional data (system-generated information, timestamps, geo-location, etc), synchronous and asynchronous messaging, voice, video, and more.
In this latest interview with KanBo CEO Michal Sobotkiewicz (@michalsobot), we talk about some of the consumer trends and technologies that are having a dramatic effect on how teams and organizations collaborate, and how our focus has shifted from document-centric to chat or conversation-based collaboration. Michal shares how KanBo saw that trend approaching and made it central to their solution, while continuing to innovate with machine-learning and bot development.
Presence has become ubiquitous
One of the most common themes across this interview series has been the importance of contextual collaboration. Engagement and adoption improve when the work conversations we have each day are captured and stored in context to our project data and documentation. One of the most compelling features in KanBo is that it promotes contextual discussions within each card, allowing users to capture team member interactions in real-time alongside tasks, documents, relevant links, and anything else I need to encapsulate within that card to help my team complete that activity.
At the center of these real-time interactions is presence: the ability to see that team members are online and available. This is a powerful feature that determines how you collaborate with someone. If you can see that they are online, you will likely reach out immediately via chat, voice, or video. If offline, you might instead send an email, initiate a workflow, send a text, or look for someone else online who can help you immediately.
Presence is not new, of course, but neither are most of the underlying technology concepts we rely on for collaboration. But they are faster, more integrated, and in the case of presence-awareness – ubiquitous in online collaboration platforms. Back in 2007, Evan Rosen wrote an article for NetworkWorld.com identified some key business cases for presence that are still very much relevant today::
“The shift toward real-time collaboration is nudging organizations to accept more spontaneous interaction. For example, being able to switch from an IM to a Web conference to a videoconference on the fly is changing conferencing from a scheduled to a seat-of0the-pants activity.
“Web conferences make more sense in an ad hoc context, whereas before they had to be planned out, laid out, uploaded and then the meeting tended to be more of an event and was, of course, scheduled and prearranged,” says Laurie Heltsley, Proctor and Gamble’s director of computers and communications services.
The most significant impact of presence is that it integrates into people’s work styles. Rather than abandoning work to initiate an interaction, collaborators connect directly from within applications.
“Presence will become, more or less, the focal point of the desktop over time” Heltsley says. “And there are some indicators that we’re going to drive many more things that used to be off the center of the desktop to the center of the desktop via presence. So, for example, video is one of them. Another is application sharing.”
Doing a little bit of research on my own blog, I came across a blog post from March 31st, 2004 on the topic of Instant Messaging and presence, quoting both Microsoft and IBM experts about the need for interoperability and automation, and how (in 2004) that envisioned future was going to be critical to collaboration, but was still a few years away. Dave Becker from the IBM Sametime team stated, “True presence, where everybody who needs to contact you knows where you are and what you’re doing, is years off and requires surmounting a host of technical, business and behavioral challenges. ”
And now here we are in 2018, and presence has become a central component of our real-time collaboration activities.
KanBo puts conversation in context
In the modern workplace, very few of our activities can (or should) be done without interacting with our peers, managers, and employees. Email is not always the most efficient way to engage with people — at least not in a way that captures the conversation and includes all details with the tasks at hand. Yammer and other enterprise social networks may be great for getting a broad base of opinions on a topic, event, or idea — but the right people may not get engaged in the discussion, and any insights shared would have to be manually saved or linked back to the work activities in question. KanBo, on the other hand, allows you to collaborate with one person, or with many, and maintains all of that conversation in context to the task at hand via a KanBo card.
Additionally, you can quickly identify when people are online (presence awareness) and, more to the point, when they have responded to a request or question so that you can follow up, or continue to discuss within the card. Everything you discuss and share within that card is connected, creating a rich web of content and context to your tasks through these real-time collaboration, thanks to KanBo.