COVID broke collaboration. How can we fix it?

Kimmo Salmela · December 31, 2020 · 4 mins

The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic put the move to remote work on the fast track. It also revealed on the large scale the problems with our cloud collaboration solutions: they just don’t collaborate.

But this was nothing new. Now it just became the news, as pointed out by Forbes. The underlying problem is that collaboration tools from Zoom to Slack to MS Teams were developed as individual applications. But collaboration is a capability or feature that connects, not an application.

Or as Girish Mathrubootham, CEO of Freshworks, said of the recent Salesforce acquisition of Slack:

“The question to ask is: Why is collaboration so broken and why you would need to spend $27.7 billion to fix it? Collaboration is a feature. The truth is collaboration works better with context.”

Too many windows blocking the view

Context? What does that mean?

The combination of Salesforce and Slack makes a nice case in point about that. After all, it was Salesforce who pioneered the transition to cloud services, they say.

It is common for sales teams in companies now to create an internal Slack channel for each deal they collaborate on. External Slack Connect channels are also getting increasingly popular for collaboration with customers once a sale is closed.

However, all customer and contact data reside in Salesforce, where also the financial tracking and forecasting is done. For the sales teams, this means need to constantly jump from screen to screen and manually copy data from one silo to another.

Out go the sense of focus and productivity. In sneaks frustration.

The great fix in the cloud: Salesforce + Slack

Collaboration and productivity will only come together when the tools we use come together: in this case, Slack for collaboration and Salesforce for productivity. They need to be available as a combined solution, allowing users to concentrate on one task without pivoting across screens.

Now Salesforce has the chance to achieve just this by integrating Slacktightly to its CRM. If and when this gets properly done, the improvement will be substantial. It will eliminate a lot of application hopping from the users and help them concentrate on what matters.

But is Salesforce + Slack enough?
What about documents?

At Documill, we specialize in technology to create sales documents: offers, contracts, and so forth. Especially in B2B companies, these tend to require deep collaboration between various internal experts (and increasingly, with prospects and customers).

Traditionally, the collaboration has happened in a separate application (often MS Word), where people have added their content, comments and redlines. Then everybody has jumped back to their respective productivity tools – sales reps back to Salesforce, for instance.

Mind you, this is a part of discontinuity that the mashup of Salesforce and Slack will not be able to eliminate. Neither of them has document collaboration capabilities to cover anything close to all use cases.

Salesforce + Slack + Documill = the solution

The disconnect between document collaboration and other apps has been on our minds for quite some time – since well before 2016 when we first wrote about it. We have chosen to look at the document processes from the perspective of the people who work with them. That has allowed us to connect our applications seamlessly to those other platforms and applications that also have a part in the process.

Our Documill Leap solution gives one example of the results. It brings deep document collaboration together with Salesforce and Slack. It is tightly integrated with both into the same context, for the benefit of the users.

Written by

Kimmo Salmela

Kimmo Salmela is a communications manager at Documill. Earlier on, he worked in several industry and solution marketing and communication positions at Nokia. Now Kimmo focuses on online collaboration technologies and their future prospects for businesses.

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