A group of people collaborate on a project in an office.

Business productivity tools can foster collaboration among colleagues.

What do millennial employees, high-utility technology, and a shifting business productivity landscape have in common? For many organizations, these three factors have turned early 2017 into the “Year of Collaboration.” From policy to practice to the technology driving it, organizations across the board are clearly bullish on the young workforce’s collective desire to better work together.

Here’s a look at the year (so far) in collaboration and the way these trends could shape the months and years to come:

1. BYOD’s Continued Importance

No, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is nothing new on its face. Organizations have grown more and more friendly toward personal devices as of late, and the call only gets easier to make as technology improves and penetration rates skyrocket. Instead, according to MeriTalk, the story is just how important these devices are to a millennial workforce. In an era where your tech choices serve as an extension and reflection of yourself, the ability to integrate your work habits with the hardware platforms of your choice is considered more of a right than a privilege.

Thus, the collaboration-minded company doesn’t just approve of BYOD — it capitalizes on it. Integrated mobility tools allow employees to connect with co-workers, engage with clients, and project the organization’s presence for their personal hardware. For instance, an employee could use the same phone- or laptop-based business app to check a co-worker’s availability, leave revisions on a shared document, and send a business text with some final thoughts. He or she could then use the same device and app to place a call to a valued client, complete with the company’s name and phone number showing up on caller ID.

And those are just two examples. Ultimately, there are countless ways BYOD can help businesses and their employees stay productive and collaborative. It’s worth giving the practice its due space in your business productivity plans, because it’s not going away anytime soon.

2. Don’t Forget BYOS

Of course, hardware and associated operating systems are just one side of the “BYO” coin. Employees can also have personal — and sometimes deeply personal — preferences when it comes to the software they use, a trait companies can leverage to effect collaboration among their workers.

The increased availability and functionality of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) suites is one helpful advancement for companies looking to accommodate personal workflows. Instead of buying individual full licenses, the company can purchase affordable subscriptions for precisely the number of people wanting to use this tool or that service. This means your office’s diehard Dropbox™ fan can easily link her personal cloud storage account to a business-run one, with administrative oversight tools allowing a measure of privacy and policy adherence. Compared to the employee going “shadow IT” — that is to say, carting private work files around in his personal account without permission — this represents an inexpensive way to stay compliant and bolster productivity and collaboration.

Better, storage is far from the only tool to receive a SaaS makeover. Tools running the gamut of business needs — word processing, project management, graphic design, video editing, and more — can be purchased on a monthly, a-la-carte basis, making BYOS a viable policy in all sorts of workplaces. Throw in a focus on interoperability between many competing products, and voila — business collaboration, productivity, and personal choice no longer need to be mutually exclusive goals.

3. The Internet of Things: More Than a Customer Tool

When you hear about the Internet of Things (IoT) in your industry, there’s a good chance the chatter comes with a customer-focused spin. This makes sense, at least to a point. It’s how the discussion is framed in the larger tech media, and many consumer-focused IoT tools are downright nifty, too.

However, customer-facing tools are just one facet of the IoT’s era. Great things are being done on the business collaboration front today. According to The Next Web, organizations can boost productivity and collaboration with internet-connected location- and status-reporting tools, unified communication-enabled desk phones, “print anywhere” printers, and metric-reporting sensors. For example, the last item on that list can provide valuable performance insights to HR and management teams.

And that’s just the beginning of the IoT’s value in the collaborative workspace. In fields as far ranging as manufacturing and marketing, logistics, and legal, the connect-everything mantra will increasingly drive business productivity, process, and collaboration throughout the year and beyond. In other words, the IoT’s combination of low cost and high utility will become too much to pass up.

The Year in Collaboration

Like the companies that foster it, collaboration takes a lot of shapes. For some organizations, making a more collaboration-friendly space is as simple as buying or subscribing to cloud-backed communication or productivity tools. For others, a collaborative office means a connected office, with cutting-edge tools reporting metrics, providing statuses, and simplifying work processes.

The true constant is that people want to work together, and they want tools that best allow them to do that. Considering all the business productivity benefits a little teamwork can bring, this makes an endless list of reasons to make your office more collaboration-friendly — and very few reasons not to. What better time than now to make it happen with a VoIP business phone system?

To learn more about collaboration tools, contact a Vonage Business consultant.

About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.

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Woman types on a laptop at a desk.

The hybrid cloud trend is shaping cloud strategy.

Ever wish modern tech such as cloud services received as much attention from the tabloids as celebrities? You know, something to keep you abreast of which technologies were hot and which were falling out of favor. In lieu of a National Tech Inquirer, we’ve compiled a list of three major cloud trends dominating the minds of IT professionals today.

After all, a cloud strategy is one of the most important aspects of modern IT. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the sheer number of business cloud services supporting critical workflows in just about any modern enterprise environment. If you lost count, you’re not alone. Businesses have quickly come to rely on the inherent manageability and scalability of these virtual resources.

It really comes as no surprise, then, when you realize just how much of an impact the cloud has had on the face of IT. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at which trends have had the most effect and why they’ve created such a buzz.

1. Hybrid Clouds and Big Data

The concept of big data in the cloud is a bit of a paradox. While Stephen Hawking may have foreseen the perfect marriage of these two technologies, the state of early cloud technology was viewed with apprehension. By its very nature, big data analytics require immense storage footprints that were simply impractical in a cloud setting. Remember those meager limits on early cloud services? Yeah, the ones that counted in megabytes. Well, storage has become far more dense — that’s a compliment — and cheaper to boot.

The result is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that makes it practical to leverage the analytics prowess of cloud services on large amounts of data. Speaking of which, the emergence of hybrid cloud technology can be traced back to the need of enterprise organizations to expose their own gigantic data stores to the processing power of cloud platforms. With the addition of storage and CPU clusters, this data can be processed and analyzed with a few clicks of the mouse. It’s for these reasons that hybrid cloud adoption rose 13 percent in 2015 alone, according to Rightscale, and remains one of the hottest trends shaping the face of IT today.

2. Software-as-a-Service

There’s no question that computers are getting more powerful with each passing day. The hardware used in enterprise environments today is light years faster and more reliable than those used even a few years ago. Yet despite the enormous strides chip manufacturers have been making, one trend has us questioning the need for so much raw power.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has emerged as a revolution in how enterprise organizations manage and deploy software to their users. Born of the need for a much simpler way to install, update, and use software libraries in large companies, SaaS takes the burden off the shoulders of the enterprise and shifts it to the vendor. Everything from communication and collaboration software to custom-built enterprise apps can now be enjoyed a la carte. Put simply, this trend is changing the way enterprise users work.

3. Hyperconvergence

If SaaS — or really any “as-a-Service” technology — was created to simplify and streamline enterprise software, hyperconvergence could claim the same for the hardware side of things. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you will. While this particular trend is still somewhat of an up-and-comer, the concept is far too lucrative for it to relinquish its position as a top IT trend.

The idea is to take as many aspects of modern IT infrastructure, such as compute, storage, network, etc., add a heaping dose of virtualization, then cram it all into a cheap box of commodity hardware. Popularized by the Facebooks and Googles of the world, hyperconvergence lets enterprise environments use the power of virtual resources — in combination with falling prices in commodity hardware — to drive digital operations from a single platform. The end result is a scalable infrastructure that can be tailored to just about any need.

There you have it, three titanic trends that are shaping the very face of modern IT. As the new year rapidly advances, these trends will undoubtedly continue to influence cloud strategy in an enterprise near you. While the new year may bring fresh trends out of the woodwork, it’s safe to say that hybrid clouds, SaaS, and hyperconvergence will still be making their mark.

Intrigued? If you’d like to learn more about extensive features available for your organization’s cloud strategy, check out Vonage Business!

About Joe Hewitson

With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it.

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