The reality of government today is that its activities are multinational, global and fast-paced. Government agencies often have employees located around the world. They engage in multiagency initiatives, often across traditional jurisdictional boundaries. This new reality of working has been enabled by new collaboration technologies and is increasingly reliant upon them for effective and efficient organizational communication.
Collaboration tools include the following technologies:
- Presence and availability systems: reveal when colleagues, staff workers and fellow students are online and available for interaction — regardless of their physical location
- Instant messaging services: rapidly facilitate text-, voice- and video-based interaction, through multiple devices including desktop computers, notebooks, tablets and smartphones
- Social media tools: provide a venue for capturing, analyzing and engaging with customers and co-workers
- Video collaboration systems: re-create an experience that’s similar to face-to-face interaction, allowing users to schedule video meetings and enrich their communicative interactions
- Cloud collaboration services: provide rapid access to collaboration technologies without having to build and maintain in-house infrastructure
Collaboration technologies bring significant benefits to organizational communication, including the following.
Streamlined communication: Using presence and instant messaging, managers can rapidly communicate with their staff, regardless of where they are located. Draft documents can be immediately shared with everyone on a project team, without waiting for overnight deliveries. Approval cycles can be collapsed to minutes, even when executives are in the midst of business travel.
Travel savings: Routine team and project meetings can be replaced with instant messaging or video collaboration. Spending a day to travel for a one-hour meeting becomes an inefficient practice relegated to the past. Now managers and elected officials can meet with many more people each day, pushing forward their organizational and agency agendas.
Lower telecom costs: Creating new ways of interacting with others over a secure Internet-based network can eliminate expensive phone calls and fax messages. Voice calls now happen through instant messaging services such as Microsoft Lync or IBM Sametime. Person-to-person video communications can take place from notebooks, tablets and smartphones, and room-based high-definition video conferencing can support multiperson meetings.
Other benefits: The effective use of collaboration technologies can deliver other significant benefits too, including workflow optimization, faster time-to-hire for new employees, greater input from experts, a platform for innovation and enhanced organizational memory.