Today, effective teamwork has become a key driver for business success. Companies of all sizes need to become better and faster in their innovation and value creation processes. As global competition increases and supply chains frequently stretch across borders, becoming more and more complex, collaboration and information flows need to be as smooth and productive as possible. This can be seen as a big challenge. Or as an opportunity: with the right tools, businesses can seize productivity advantages and place themselves in the driver’s seat of their markets. Designed with the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) at its core, Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub offers powerful solutions to optimise the communication and collaboration processes required for this. Businesses can achieve effortlessly efficient collaboration, unlocking the massive potential within their organisations.
Particularly small and medium-sized businesses face numerous pressures that can only be resolved through effective collaboration. Value creation processes have become highly complex, demanding the involvement of many experts and drawing on talent and resources from multiple locations and departments. Such complexity might have been the preserve of larger organisations in the past – but it is becoming the norm for SMBs, too. Facing ever-shorter product lifecycles and a constant pressure to innovate, it is essential that SMBs enable their teams to efficiently share information and effectively combine the respective strengths of their workforce.
In a recent study, the Institute for Corporate Productivity, and Rob Cross, Professor for Global Business at Babson College, found that companies promoting collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing. According to the research with more than 1,100 participating companies, the purposeful pursuit of collaboration is the primary reason high-performance organisations can achieve desired business outcomes. Thus, effective collaboration drives productivity and gives companies in competitive markets a critical edge.
And there is an HR element as well: working in collaborative environments is particularly important to younger generations. Human resources service provider Randstad describes millennials and generation Z as the ‘collaboration generations’: exchange and collaboration are critical to their workplace satisfaction, and they are convinced that they can do their jobs best when co-working with others. While many large enterprises are transforming their working environments and business processes to reflect these demands, SMBs need to keep pace to continue attracting talent.
The obstacles to effective collaboration in SMBs
It is easy to see the benefits of effective collaboration. Yet unfortunately, in reality, many SMBs struggle to overcome the obstacles to effective team working practices: Information and task overload result in less effective prioritisation and unstructured ways of working. Projects become confused by unclear priorities, varying levels of knowledge among peers and an inability to receive timely and accurate status information. Unsuitable software and tools add to this problem. Colleagues working together – particularly when they are operating from different locations – can find it difficult to gain an overview of and access to different files and file versions, while working collaboratively on a single document can prove highly challenging. These everyday stresses add to already high workloads and introduce a greater risk of errors and duplicated effort – all of which consumes already stretched resources.
Successful collaboration needs the right tools
Such collaboration tools enable fast and easy access to information – both across a company, but also within teams, to facilitate organisation and link remote and local teams. Additionally, solutions that help to efficiently organise tasks for teams and individuals – not just within a company’s workforce but also with third parties – are particularly helpful.
Nevertheless, such tools need to reflect the requirements of the specific organisation, and in an SMB these can differ significantly from larger companies. “Working together closely with SMBs, we know that they have very specific challenges. Being a ‘global hidden champion’ in a specific industry niche can, for example, mean having to enable remote collaboration across continents with a need to maintain the highest level of security and reliability. At the same time, they do not have the extensive internal IT resources available to larger companies for setting up and maintaining the solutions needed. With these needs at heart, we have created Workplace Hub,” adds Arne Randt.
Workplace Hub – collaborative work made seamless for employeesWith Workplace Hub, Konica Minolta has created a business IT solution with a unified IT concept for SMBs, dedicated to meeting their specific needs – including features that make work processes and collaboration more effective. And it is easy to use both from the perspective of the employees as well as that of the IT department. With a web-based interface, the ‘User Dashboard’ offers users a truly digital workplace platform for communicating, accessing and saving information as well as planning projects. Working in teams thus becomes simpler and more efficient. This unified web interface has a responsive design that works across multiple devices while offering a seamless and familiar experience.
For self-organisation, the employee is provided with a section called ‘My Board’ that aggregates all the information required to manage the working day, such as tasks, recent emails, upcoming events, and documents. The ‘My Team’ segment hosts all the projects and project groups that an individual belongs to in one place – helping groups to easily organise. In this way, tasks are more focused and team work becomes more agile since everything is structured around projects and specific groups, with faster access to the tools, necessary documents and apps required to master the tasks at hand together. The User Dashboard also provides a ‘My Company’ segment that contains company-wide relevant information, allowing organisations to share news, videos, policies, and reference documents relevant to everyone in the company.
In addition, social networking, co-authoring and instant messaging tools simplify collaboration to make communication and the sharing of information as effortless as possible. Workplace Hub also facilitates community management with support for Microsoft and Yammer groups. It also makes it easy to make contributions with the ability to tag content with metadata. Meanwhile, powerful search capabilities ensure that locating required information across the entire system is efficient and fuss-free.
A solution manageable with limited internal IT capabilitiesWorkplace Hub is designed to support SMB IT departments with their limited resources to future-proof their systems. IT addresses growing complexity by providing efficient and effective management of the disparate array of tools, services and devices used by modern organisations. It brings together leading hardware, software, security, and a full suite of services in one solution, all of this with one contract and a single point of contact to resolve any issues. This provides greater control, as it lets businesses optimise their total IT spend while focusing on core business priorities. Managed IT services can also be added, providing further relief to IT departments and supporting them where needed. Analogue to the unifying platform provided to employees, Workplace Hub also offers an ‘Admin Dashboard’ – hosting all controls and applications in one place.
Partnering up to make collaboration a successTherefore, when making collaboration work in an organisation appropriately is a challenge, the solution to mastering this is collaboration – with an external partner such as Konica Minolta.
SMBs need a partner that can implement a holistic solution that does not tie up resources and can be quickly and easily set up. It is also crucial that solutions meet their specific needs, offer the scalability and flexibility required to grow with the business, while providing the highest level of security, data security and reliability.
“We understand the magnitude and profundity of the changes facing SMBs today, and with Workplace Hub we have created a solution that lets them rapidly adopt innovative working practices,” concludes Arne Randt. “However, success depends on more than technology: it is all about people, too. That’s why we are proud to work with our customers as a long-term partner to deliver long-term success.”
 Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, 2017
 Randstad, Managing Gen Y and Z in the workplace, 2016, https://www.randstadusa.com/workforce360/managing-gen-y-z/
 Technical University of Darmstadt, German Social Collaboration Study, 2018, http://enterprise-communication-hub.com/german-social-collaboration-study-2018/