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Last week, we began a month-long series examining 2017’s technology advancements and how they are transforming work. This week, we zoom in on how they are affecting you, the business user.

As we noted, some of 2017’s major technology transformations were related to collaboration, integration, cloud adoption, and the start of a corporate learning overhaul. Although many of these shifts are happening on a grand scale—across entire companies and even industries—these changes are felt most profoundly on an individual level. And that’s the point: Organizations are becoming increasingly customer- and employee-centric, and it began to show in 2017.

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Collaboration

Collaboration’s productivity-boosting potential grew in 2017—not just in theory, but also in practice. With the release of two major products, Slack Enterprise Grid and Microsoft Teams, it is becoming clear that software companies are beginning to recognize the demand for smarter enterprise collaboration systems. It also signifies that business leaders are listening to you.

Organizations are becoming increasingly customer- and employee-centric, and it began to show in 2017

Both platforms rely on centralized communication and deep integration with other apps to make it easy for users to work together in real-time or anytime on presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and other files. With features like threaded conversations, centralized notifications, and mobile access, these collaboration systems ensure that everyone has access to the most recent files, communications, conversations and other critical project elements. They also free up time that would otherwise be spent searching for project information in IM, email, and other sources.

Integration

This year, it became more evident that smart collaboration—the kind that sparks innovation and makes work meaningful—is nearly impossible without integrations. They are the connectors, web hooks, bots, and apps that link to a collaboration platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams to create a seamless user experience.

Integrations enable you to access information from a range of sources within one view. For example, tools and systems that work with Slack Enterprise Grid include Microsoft OneDrive, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, Zendesk, Twitter, and countless others. The list of tools that work with Microsoft Teams is also extensive, and includes GitHub, Zendesk, Salesforce, Twitter, Office 365 apps, and others.

Both products are relatively new to the enterprise space, and the number of integrations is expected to climb. For you, that means less of the tedious task-switching that has become the norm—the endless oscillating between applications like email, IM and others to work with colleagues on projects.

Cloud Adoption

Earlier in 2017, the research firm Gartner said it expects that by 2018, nearly half of business users will have moved their core collaboration and communications systems to cloud platforms. By 2021, it predicts that more than 70 percent of businesses will be equipped with cloud office capabilities.

Employees of organizations that migrated to the cloud this year have had a bit of a learning curve to overcome. Although many of the tools in a cloud suite like Office 365 are familiar to business users, there are just as many or more that are unfamiliar. What’s more, a move to the cloud is not simply “new tools for old approaches.” The cloud changes how you work—it’s more accurately described as “new tools, new approaches, new business objectives.”

L&D’s new frontier

There’s a catch to all this progress—your productivity is only as strong as your ability to use the tools. With more distractions, frequent software updates and rapidly changing business objectives, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep up.

Thankfully, businesses have begun to understand that occasional, one-size-fits-all training is no longer sufficient to meet your needs. In 2017, overhauling corporate learning and development was the second most important topic for CEOs and HR leaders, according to this year’s Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

This year, corporate learning continued its transformation from an occasional diversion to a core element of business success. And this shift has only just begun—2018 will likely bring about even more change. This growing emphasis on learning will enable you to be more productive and efficient with your day-to-day tasks and with collaboration overall.

Next week: We take a closer look at how learning and development changed in 2017.

Image: Freepik

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