Collaborating on Opposite Sides of the World

Business service provider Raúl is in Brazil chatting with Angela, who’s in Beijing. Although separated by several times zones, the team is able to put together a sales presentation for a new product – and in less than an hour. They then ship it to Michelle, in the UK, who brings it to life with her graphic design skills.

It’s not breaking news that businesses leverage global talent for individual projects. But it takes more than teamwork to get it done efficiently. Just a couple of decades ago, what Raúl, Angela and Michelle completed in a couple of hours would have taken weeks, instead. The trio would have had to rely on snail mail as multiple drafts were iteratively shipped across oceans and continents. Or, worse, they would not have been a team at all – instead, their business partners would be dictated by geography, and not who’s the best or brightest.

Although we often talk in a broad sense about how the Internet has flattened the world and connected countries and companies, technology has also tremendously impacted how we work with our peers on a one-to-one basis. And that’s incredibly important: it’s frequently in small groups, like the one mentioned above, where great ideas are born.

Each day, new technologies and products emerge that help us to streamline this collaboration process, both within offices and across the globe. For one recent example, we can look to the new – and wildly successful – platform Slack. Slack is an enormously popular work collaboration and communication tool which, after launching in 2013, gained thousands of users within one day. Not only is it the fastest growing software company out there, but this workplace productivity app has already garnered a valuation of over one billion dollars.

Slack doesn’t offer something previously unseen or terribly creative. Instead, it focuses on something paramount – productivity and communication between colleagues – and labors to make it flawless. Turns out, that’s exactly what companies large and small around the world needed. Many businesses likely hadn’t heard of Slack 12 months ago; now, they’re calling it indispensable.

For years, our business delivery model has yielded benefits stemming from such innovative collaboration. Procurement and business services often emulate these one-to-one professional interactions on a larger scale. In both cases, all parties needed to be knowledge, driven and on the same page. As businesses continue to globalize, we should pay attention to the value of services like Slack – and the importance of efficient communication.