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Adobe roundtable finds more businesses need to use collaboration tools

Greater collaboration, communication and education is needed to run businesses more effectively, say panel speakers

The majority of Canadian businesses aren’t using enough collaboration tools, aren’t utilizing training tools and materials to the best of their abilities and aren’t taking on the right business management approach when it comes to business processes.

Those were among the conclusions of a recent roundtable in Toronto, hosted by Adobe Canada (NASDAQ: ADBE), that explored the issues of how Canadian businesses communicate and interact with one another, and with their employees.

Mark James, business development manager of Acrobat vertical solutions of Adobe Canada, said to compete in today’s market it’s no longer enough for a business to rely on just products and services alone.

“Organizations need to understand it’s really about how you connect with your customers, vendors and employees,” James said. “It’s about maximizing productivity amongst your business lines and empowering users.”

James went on to outline three key pillars that help transform and drive business productivity: connecting people, using technology as a key enabler to transform business processes and workflow, and leveraging technology to provide further business opportunities.

Peter Carr, director of masters in management sciences at the University of Waterloo, explains technology has come a long way over the years. “Technology has allowed people to come together in an education and business world by synchronizing communications where people can communicate at any time of the day and across boundaries.”

Even still, Carr said that from a business perspective, collaboration tools and products still aren’t being used in the most optimal way as employees in various departments are still somewhat isolated from the rest of the staff. “In organizations, we’re still not seeing that level of collaboration because things are still on a high-level.”

To help extend these collaborative efforts, Carr said more participation amongst employees and empowerment from management needs to be present within an organization. He also said there needs to be a certain level of trust on the part of employees and their senior management team regarding any changes to the business.

Terence Frater, vice-president of the Toronto chapter of AIIM International, a non-profit organization that represents the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) industry, said training and education are also paramount when going through the implementation process of collaboration and communication solutions.

“When the budget crunch comes in, often times training is the first thing to get cut, Frater said. “In order to deal with business challenges, people need to have a certain level of comfort because people are generally resistant to change. That’s why training is very important.”

Some of the main drivers that are leading businesses down the path toward collaborative tools are things such as compliance, productivity, the reduction of costs and increasing efficiencies. With many knowledge workers retiring in the near future, Frater said it’s important for organizations to start recognizing they need to be more flexible in their thinking and management processes when it comes to the transfer of knowledge among staff.

“Businesses aren’t agile enough in terms of how they manage their affairs to engage in technology,” Frater said. “Businesses need to develop a strategy around knowledge transfer because even though we’re in a knowledge economy, there are still (graduates) coming out of school that are techno-phobic and that has to change.”

For solution providers and channel partners in general, James said this mentality presents plenty of partner opportunity. It’s a matter of educating customers on the technology and products, and showing them how technology will benefit them and their business.

“At Adobe, we feel there are opportunities for partners to leverage technologies such as Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Connect to help businesses streamline and share processes,” he said. “People are looking for ways to share and communicate information and they’re looking for a standardized way to do this while still maintaining their business requirements.”