ag visuell - Fotolia
Cloud collaboration will benefit the future of digital work, where content streams and pools blend in innovative ways to support business purposes and enhance productivity.
Today, without giving it much thought, workers mix digitized content with digital communications to collaborate and share information. Sometimes, there are content streams -- the conversational exchanges of phone, chat and online meetings; other times, digital work entails sifting through content pools, hunting for the right nuggets to answer questions or provide insights.
Many knowledge workers are in the midst of a content tsunami, contending with information overload and the rapidly accelerating pace of digital work. And yet, they have the option to harness the natural cycle where streams flow into pools and then become the sources of new streams. With this continuous motion, content becomes the water for the digital age and clouds a medium for storing water. Thus, cloud collaboration benefits work of the future.
Cloud computing introduces new opportunities for purpose-built experiences that reduce friction and add business value. Through microservices running within a cloud ecosystem, content is woven together to support innovative and increasingly seamless digital experiences. Collaborative applications are no longer limited to the confines of a corporate data center and discrete business activities, and information is not stuck in a stand-alone repository.
Specifically, cloud-powered collaborative applications use information from disparate sources and break through the confines of content silos. They organize and deliver content around targeted tasks that support business purposes. Relying on microservices deployed as web-based APIs, they easily integrate with back-office data sources, enterprise content management (ECM) repositories and existing enterprise applications.
These next-generation collaborative applications also provide additional layers of security to support private, persistent and searchable digital experiences across an extended enterprise. With a cloud ecosystem in place, there is a continuous flow of information between content pools and streams to deliver business value.
Recurring work patterns
Consider SAP Jam, a collaborative social media platform from SAP, deployed as a set of cloud services to help companies organize information around recurring work patterns. It highlights the importance of turning pools into streams -- sharing documents, accessing specialized knowledge bases, coordinating activities, identifying expertise and streamlining information exchanges across predefined business teams. SAP Jam organizes content and experiences around results -- what needs to happen to bring people, content and decision-making capabilities together.
SAP Jam blends information resources for purpose-built results. It supports virtual collaborative capabilities, ensuring content remains within existing repositories of record -- for example:
- An ECM repository maintains technical documents, managed by formally defined business processes.
- A customer support team maintains a curated collection of frequently asked questions together with various discussion forums.
- A business partner develops training videos, stored on a special-purpose video server and streamed through cloud connections.
The cloud collaboration benefit of this application pieces together multiple content snippets, such as an FAQ summary about a problem with a relevant section from a technical document and a short video snippet, all organized and presented as a seamless experience. Having all the relevant information available in a single place saves time and increases productivity.
Collaborating in the moment
The future of digital work also depends on just-in-time communications that support information exchanges and decision-making within business teams. Once the domain of plain old telephone services and proprietary private branch exchanges, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) now relies on internet-based protocols to support collaborative work environments. Not surprisingly, a cloud ecosystem and web APIs are adding innovative capabilities to channel content streams into pools and to create new kinds of purpose-built applications.
Consider how Fuze, a visionary UCaaS provider, enhances collaboration and information sharing within business teams. Fuze focuses on seamless communications and utilizes a cloud ecosystem. Staffers within an organization no longer need to switch between applications when they make phone calls, share screens, participate in live meetings, join group chats or share information maintained in content repositories.
Fuze provides a unified and extensive set of collaborative tools -- including phone, chat, presence awareness and live meetings -- running on tethered and mobile devices. In addition, Fuze rapidly integrates with line-of-business systems and content repositories accessible in the cloud to support targeted business purposes.
Behind the scenes and deployed within a private cloud infrastructure, Fuze features a UC environment that is part of a cloud ecosystem. Fuze uses WebRTC -- an open source initiative to provide audio and video communications capabilities through standardized APIs -- that is now an integral capability of Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers. There is no longer a need to install browser plugins or download native applications to deliver browser-based real-time communications.
In addition, Fuze supports open APIs to many cloud-powered enterprise applications, including Salesforce, SugarCRM, NetSuite, ServiceNow and Microsoft OneDrive. These APIs enable microservices for integrating external information sources into the Fuze experience.
Thus, an organization easily provides business teams with uniform and consistent digital experiences. Field workers collaborate with one another and with colleagues at a head office, while on the go. They check for trouble tickets and view current sales information, accessing external enterprise applications as needed, while discussing situations in real time. And at the same time, the IT group channels the flow of information to support business objectives, while centrally maintaining security and access controls.
Harnessing content through microservices
When it comes to collaborative applications deployed in the cloud, both SAP Jam and Fuze highlight an important trend. The cloud introduces new possibilities for the future of digital work. A cloud ecosystem provides big pipes to channel the continuous flow of content between pools and streams. Microservices within these applications introduce unparalleled opportunities to weave together content for innovative experiences.
But microservices must be harnessed to support business purposes. Content services are a necessity for accessing, storing and managing content within shared repositories. Microservices for collaboration need the metadata management capabilities of content services.
Cloud collaboration benefits from the flow of content, organized and managed to support targeted tasks. It is now possible to add communications capabilities to content delivery and produce experiences that would be difficult without a cloud ecosystem. Getting there, though, is going to require some effort.