In the past 18 months, collaboration tools have become more important to the future of how we work, but how does this drive organisations to deliver greater efficiency and productivity for a prosperous future? 

Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist, considers the way forward for employees and employers.

To say a lot has changed since we first uttered the words ‘COVID-19’ is an understatement. The pandemic brought about rapid shifts in how we live, work, and function as a society. However, it has not only come at a personal cost to how we live, but to how businesses survive. Both employers and employees have felt this pressure embracing the biggest working transition the world has ever seen.

While offices and travel begin to open up, there is still uncertainty as to what the future holds. What is certain, however, is that a distributed hybrid working model is here to stay. We believe the success of this model depends on three key drivers for change: the successful integration of both third-party and bespoke tools; tools and infrastructure architected to support cross team value streams; and the introduction of more visual collaboration tools and increased workflow automation.

Not only are these challenges at the heart of collaboration working moving forward but they’re also key to ensuring business continuity and transformation.

Tools for collaboration are at the heart of the future enterprise

The past year and a half would have looked very different without the wealth of collaboration tools that were available to us. They helped organisations pivot at a moment’s notice, made it easier for people to connect and empowered teams to collaborate from anywhere in the world.

While these tools – and the need for them – existed before the pandemic, it took COVID-19 to make us embrace them. The accelerated change in how we work isn’t going away anytime soon. Now, we’re seeing the new hybrid working model shaping people’s workdays, and collaboration tools such as Zoom, Google Docs and Slack being used more and more across organisations. The importance of offering a seamless experience across teams is growing, and we’re even seeing demand for more collaboration tools that allow teams to quickly, and visually, share ideas. Organisations want greater efficiency and productivity from their collaboration tools, and as we continue to embed this new hybrid working model, demand is only set to increase.

Growing need for a broader set of tools across teams

Transitioning to a remote-working environment has naturally meant a growing reliance on Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. It’s no surprise that the average enterprise is now using around 288 SaaS applications — up 30% year over year in 2020. Undeniably, SaaS applications create new possibilities for organisations, being quick to implement, and easier to manage and upgrade than bespoke software solutions.

However, this new wave of SaaS deployments is typically being done alongside existing on-premise software, creating an increasingly hybrid deployment landscape. Running a mixture of SaaS applications and on-premise solutions adds greater complexity to operations, forcing IT departments to deal with data spread across many different systems and locations.

The trend has developed a new problem for organisations – how can they connect disjointed tools and create operational harmony? The only way to really address this is with planned integration. By integrating disjointed tools, organisations are afforded with an amazing opportunity to bring best-of-breed tools together with their own unique business solutions, to have the best of both worlds. Integrating all of the data held by SaaS platforms across an organisation is key to a healthy and successful organisation.

Demand to automate workflows is rising

In our 2021: State of the Atlassian Ecosystem research, automating manual workflows was the top driver for organisations wanting to make changes in their DevOps strategy, and it’s obvious to see why. Today, a DevOps mindset is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must have’ in the software space. Without it, companies risk slowing down because of their own internal friction, causing inefficiencies with slow turnaround, poor quality, little teamwork and a lack of accountability.

With a well thought out DevOps strategy, organisations accelerate delivery and maintain quality, ensuring continuous development with consistent feedback loops. Uniting software development and technology operations helps organisations smooth the path from ideation to production, creating an end-to-end pipeline that includes every stakeholder in the process. At its best, it changes the way people think across an organisation in all aspects of development and operations, and subsequently, changes the way everyone works.

Non-technical teams are using more software development tools

It’s no longer just for whom technology is a core part of their role using these new tools either. Interestingly, our Atlassian ecosystem research also found that there’s a significant increase in operations, customer support and marketing teams using software tools, suggesting a step-change in the way organisations are collaborating and communicating. The increase in usage suggests that user trends have shifted to meet the new ways of working.

With more work being done across applications and systems, and more and more people using different tools, more work needs to be done to integrate the applications and systems that teams are using to improve overall business efficiencies and productivity. Connecting data across organisations streamlines operations and enables smoother, smarter means of unlocking business critical information.


In summary

While we’ve seen many organisations struggle with pandemic-driven requirements for change, others have taken it in their stride and relished the opportunity to truly transform the way they operate.

One thing is clear – organisations already using flexible tools and services had the power to steamroll ahead and seamlessly transition to different ways of working. Those that were not had a jarring and disruptive change forced upon them. Organisations should now be looking to build new levels of flexibility, and the resilience to rapidly adopt changes.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.