Modern collaboration

Is “modern collaboration” really helping us collaborate better?

In an interesting article by Jason Green of Emergence Capital Partners, an early investor in Yammer, he talks about the promise and progress of collaboration, specifically modern collaboration. Today you have a number of companies like Yammer and Box, more modern players like Slack and Hall and other work management companies like Asana and Wrike that have helped to improve employee engagement, particularly for teams that are operating remotely. In the article, Green points out that the increased employee engagement has certainly helped decrease the communication friction but the unfortunate by-product has been that we are all dealing with an information overload that is devoid of context and accountability.

Woes of modern collaboration

With so much communication happening regularly at workplace, it is getting distributed across many competing platforms. Much of the data is getting siloed into each of these platforms and/or getting replicated. This has the potential to cause several issues, the central one being conversations taking place simultaneously and requiring multiple changes in context causing confusion and inefficiency. Not just that, the biggest challenge is that the increased communication is resulting into unnecessary noise and extracting the signal (or what is most important or relevant) from all the noise is becoming challenging. In addition, owing to the numerous platforms being used, the searchability of communication has also become complex. This in turn is resulting into employees becoming fearful of missing out on important information in all the clutter.

Avalanche of numerous tools

Another problem in the online collaboration world is that people today suffer from the number of tools and the complexity of these tools to organize their work life. Email is great for communication. But it is extremely messy. Inboxes can be hell. It is a horrible way to organize your internal workload. According to a leading agency which tracks email usage, this year, each worker using a business email account will send and receive a daily average of 125 mail messages, a 16 per cent increase from 105 per day in 2011.

Chat is great too, since it allows for real-time communication. Some of most widely used chat applications are Slack, Hipchat and Whatsapp. We all love chat and the modern day information worker typically chats everyday. But they too are messy. People get left out. You lose information. Often the context is lost. Basically there is no way of tracking important information that is shared. Imagine a chat like the one below:

Susan: Didn’t I ask you to upload the proposal to me yesterday?
Mike: No you didn’t.
Susan: Of course I did. Check the chat on Slack around 9.27pm yesterday
Mike: No … Well yes, you are right, you did. But I didn’t see it somehow, you sent it on my Whatsapp not Slack
Susan: This sucks! I wish I could action work out of these conversations

Another problem with chats is that it is difficult to get any real work done. For example, imagine you are chatting with a bunch of marketing folks and you want to run a campaign during a holiday. You want to check with the group as to which holiday would be ideal to run the campaign. When you ask this question through the chat, you suddenly start getting a whole bunch of answers in an unstructured way mixed with several unrelated chat messages. Now you have the arduous task of figuring out who said what going back several pages of the chat messages and decide what the majority is leaning towards and why. Very time consuming indeed.

Now combine this with project management tools. You’ve got Asana, you’ve got Basecamp and both are good tools. But here is where the collaboration breaks. So finally we are left with tasks, shared task lists, chats, projects, documents and of course emails; all scattered in disparate tools.

Does this feel like collaboration to you?

What a modern team needs is a tool that combines the elements of an instant messaging app, a social network, a communal notebook, projects and tasks, conferencing and an online calendar to enable teams of employees to share information and do most of their jobs without relying on email. But at the same time not wanting to lose context, keeping the information tight and easy to find.

Our vision to help you

We envision Zapty to combine important productivity tools so that you actually start tracking the projects and tasks important to you instead of relying on post-its, emails and to-do tracking software. We’ve put conversations at the center of all type of work, be it projects, tasks, documents or even other work patterns such is surveys, polls, etc. or even more sophisticated work patterns like managing sales opportunities or expense approvals. Conversations can be started around any of these work patterns thus keeping the context alive all the time. The idea is to provide a seamless experience with never having to switch context between apps anymore. In addition, to make the process even more seamless, having the ability to search across conversations and work patterns very quickly and find information along with the appropriate context so that you can see everything clearly.

And we don’t end here.

What happens when a team member or an external collaborator is not using Zapty? No problem there. Any team member who’s not on Zapty will still get a notification through an email and all replies will go right back into the same conversation. This is how Zapty spreads from team-to-team and even to clients.

With so much packed into a single productivity app, we sincerely want to help you collaborate smarter, better and easier.