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Visual collaboration software needs seven pillars for success

A virtual workspace can foster visual collaboration among distributed teams of workers. But seven elements need to come together for a successful rollout.

The workplace has evolved to become more distributed. As a result, the virtual workforce is becoming dominant, as organizations look to capture and capitalize on the best talent unrestricted by geography. As teams have expanded geographically, real issues have emerged around maintaining team and project cohesion.

To bridge the physical gap, several tools are available, including video conferencing, conference calls and document sharing. The result, however, is piecemeal. Assorted tools cannot deliver a natural work environment where everyone can be an active participant.

This is where immersive visual collaboration software comes into play, bringing the advantages of in-person team collaboration and project development to the virtual work environment.

Organizations need seven key pillars to ensure successful implementation of visual collaboration technology. Each pillar is necessary for optimal collaboration. Without any one of them, the work will suffer.

It's like teleporting into meetings

Visual collaboration software needs to be designed with the human factor in mind, making it an extension of how people work.

Access. Unfettered access to content and the ability to see every step of the project is key. When content lives in a room on dry-erase boards, for example, teams don't have ubiquitous access. Consequently, employees need to refamiliarize themselves with the content and what happened the last time they met in the room.

Access to a collaborative workspace that's available anytime, from any location and from any device is required. In addition, the ability to maintain access across time is critical. Distributed teams need access to content across time zones -- from the moment an idea is generated through development and execution.

Content. Users need to be able to visualize their content in the form and format they are accustomed to using, with the ability to manipulate the elements as desired. Seeing content in a visual way helps users recall the discussions surrounding their work every time they look at the workspace. It also helps members who may join a project late to see the starting point and how the work evolved before they became involved.

In this video, see how immersive visual collaboration vendors enhance interactions with remote users.

Interaction. Once content is uploaded into the workspace, all participants need to be able to interact with it in an organic manner. This is what has been missing until now. Visual collaboration software can provide an engaging experience -- it's like you've been teleported into the meeting. Whether drawing in the workspace, viewing content or making annotations, all forms of interactivity must be possible to fuel brainstorming. It's the lynchpin for successful remote participation.

Sharing. Customers' expectations are evolving. They want to be part of the creative process, not simply waiting for the end result. Visual collaboration software needs to provide a rich tapestry and preserve the work process and the final product. Sharing how the work evolved into its final state is a great advantage. It offers valuable insights for future projects and builds a relationship between teams, management and other stakeholders.

Integration. Visual collaboration software cannot be an island; it needs to be extendable. A variety of predefined integrations and robust APIs must be compatible with web-based apps, native apps and other devices. Visual collaboration doesn't change how people create content; it changes how they share and evolve content to obtain the best final product.

Visual collaboration can break down remote barriers and deliver on the long-awaited promise of the virtual workplace.

Enterprise-ready. The software needs to be secure, easy to adopt, perform with low latency and work quickly so information can be shared instantly. In addition, the software must scale to any number of collaborators and to the amount of content uploaded.

Ease of use. Visual collaboration software needs to have a highly intuitive interface that works the same way as other popular devices and software programs. It needs to be designed with the human factor in mind, making it an effortless extension of how people work. Even as the software continues to add more complex features, it must behave in a simple way, so the user organically becomes more sophisticated through use.

When these seven pillars are combined, visual collaboration can bridge the gap between traditional and virtual workforces, enabling teams to feel connected through every step of the process. Visual collaboration software can enhance meetings, presentations and products. Perhaps most importantly, it can also break down remote barriers and deliver on the long-awaited promise of the virtual workplace.

Nick Brown is vice president of product and marketing for Bluescape, a visual collaboration software provider.

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