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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have always been time-poor, with a pressing need to maximise any investment they make in tooling to support their ecosystem growth and business development opportunities. Research from Whitespace is suggesting that such companies are now becoming overwhelmed by the noise and distraction of social media channels, communication technology and networking platforms, which are failing to help businesses collaborate with specialists and experts, limiting innovation.
Explaining the rationale for undertaking the study, The Whitespace 2022 collaboration report, the collaboration and targeted networking platform provider, said it was attempting to assess the current collaboration landscape and whether current technology offerings are actually addressing the needs of modern organisations in a digital era, that is the communication and collaboration tools that are necessary for the world of hybrid work.
Whitespace believes its survey shows that existing tools, while powerful in their own right, fail to hit the mark when it comes to creating truly effective, dynamic collaboration. It added that the world has moved on since collaboration just meant a thread of emails, shared documents and getting together in an office or gathering for a meeting. With the hybrid, dispersed workforce and collaborative teams that span the globe, the emphasis has switched to dynamic, digital collaboration.
A key finding of the survey was that SMEs were searching for a service that covers all aspects of collaboration – fitting seamlessly with their existing IT – to inspire innovation and new product development.
Three out of five SMEs said they found the current plethora of collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and LinkedIn, frustrating, and 78% said they found traditional social channels both noisy and distracting. Just over two-thirds (68%) said they spend more time than they’d like to sifting through communication tools to find content relevant to them. In addition, 64% said they wanted targeted collaboration communities that are relevant to their interests, expertise and profession.
Three-fifths of SMEs in the survey said they wanted access to high-value communities of influential individuals, where they can hold safe and secure discussions. Over half wanted just one place for online communities, workspaces and client portals, saving time and increasing productivity.
The findings of the research also show that SMEs are particularly interested in finding ways to collaborate externally with experts who they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Three-quarters highlighted external collaboration as being important to accessing skills they don’t have internally, while nearly three out of five SMEs said collaboration helped them think more creatively to provide innovative offerings.
The SMEs also stated that they are interested in enhancing internal collaboration with the ability to share materials and documents remotely and securely. This was seen as particularly important to enhancing their ability to work from anywhere. Some 68% said better internal collaboration would help their businesses think differently or more creatively.
The survey further revealed that SMEs are particularly interested in IT offerings that focus on high-quality contacts that have the ability to bring genuine value to their business. Nearly four in five SMEs said they wanted a platform that provided an easy way to find the right person to collaborate with.
“The need to reach out to colleagues and external parties, using technology that makes discussions safe and secure, and the sharing of documents instantly, without fear of security breaches, is particularly important to SMEs,” said Whitespace chief marketing and revenue officer Andrew Webber.
“They know that collaboration is vital to the success of their work, scoring it nine out of 10 for importance. The Shift collaboration platform gives organisations their own collaboration space, integrated with their existing IT infrastructure, into which they can invite their staff, customers, clients, colleagues and partners to experience a seamless online business development environment. This delivers the high level of curated collaboration that SMEs are crying out for.”