Collaborative apps: The big questions answered

  • Posted on September 23, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Our recent blog asked, “are you ready for collaborative apps?” No wonder: Collaborative apps are on the minds of a growing number of IT and business leaders charged with maximizing both the employee and the client experience. They’re a new way to use existing technology investments to achieve higher productivity, reduced costs and extraordinary return on investments (ROI).

To learn more and answer any lingering questions, Avanade’s Steve Ebrahimi, power platform center of excellence lead for collaborative apps, and Richard Gregory, modern workplace value realization global offering lead, sat down to discuss this new generation of apps. Here are the highlights of their conversation:

What exactly are collaborative apps and why should organizations pay attention?
Gregory: Put bluntly, collaborative apps bring processes, systems and data into a single interface in Microsoft Teams that you can easily access in the flow of work. They simplify how work gets done.

Just imagine you’re a financial services firm strategizing about an investor’s portfolio. The financial adviser and client can bring a commodities expert into their Teams conversation, review trading data, and conduct what-if scenarios on the portfolio – all in real time and all within Teams. Shop floor workers at a manufacturer can collaborate with service technicians over real-time data to maintain production-line uptime and product quality.

Ebrahimi: We also envision applications in healthcare, where distant specialists can be consulted as complications arise during a surgery, even taking over the controls of robotics-assisted procedures. In retail, real-time sales data can lead to revenue-enhancing changes to product displays on store shelves while a sales promotion is still underway.

Gregory: It’s transformative. Best thing is that you don’t have to change any backend systems. These collaborative apps bring it into single view.

Why are innovative companies adopting collaborative apps?
Gregory: The number one driver for collaborative apps is improving business performance by simplifying work. In doing so, organizations can improve employee experiences. Consider that the average worker can only cope with four user interfaces before productivity declines. Yet, employees actually wrestle with about 88 applications. It bakes inefficiency into every business process.

Ebrahimi: That inefficiency doesn’t just affect individual workers, but also the ability of workers to collaborate, to focus on achieving real business gains rather than just managing their technologies. For example, we showed one major European car manufacturer how to use collaborative apps to save $2.5 million a year based on time saved.

Gregory: Higher productivity is not the only benefit. Collaborative apps can make new markets and new lines of business financially viable so organizations can grow faster. We’ve been working with an international financial services firm, for example, that has a major focus on climate change and the move to sustainable energy. We showed this company how to use collaborative apps to enable a CO2 trading platform that’s on track to sequester more than 150 megatons of CO2 annually and plant 4 billion trees by 2030.

Ebrahimi: Companies can also expand their collaborative apps with rapidly maturing technologies such as augmented reality that create metaverse meeting places to bring together people, data and insight in entirely new ways.

They’re changing how people work using the “multiplayer” aspect, to borrow a term from gaming. Computer games were interesting, but they became compelling as the internet enabled multiplayer functionality – interacting on the same data in real time with people located in any part of the world. Transfer this concept to the business world and new ideas emerge and get vetted and improved more quickly.

What about companies wary of massive, rip-and-replace tech projects?
Ebrahimi: The icing on the cake for companies interested in greater financial returns and business growth is that collaborative apps aren’t a multiyear, big-ticket item to create and deploy. That’s because they’re based on making better, fuller use of technologies that most companies already have, especially Teams. Using the power of low-code, companies can put collaborative apps to work in four to six weeks, spend in the low six figures, and see 100% ROI almost instantaneously, just by reducing the current friction among their apps and processes.

Gregory: And it’s not just Teams and other Microsoft technologies that can yield greater returns for a company. Collaborative apps also increase the ROI that companies see on non-Microsoft technologies and third-party applications.

Why should companies look to Avanade to help them with collaborative apps?
Gregory: Avanade has worked closely with Microsoft for more than a year to flesh out the collaborative apps concept and bring targeted, industry-specific solutions to clients. We’ve developed a structured model to define, deploy and manage collaborative apps and maintain their function, relevance and effectiveness over time.

Ebrahimi: That’s right. We’re the only Microsoft partner with this end-to-end approach to collaborative apps. And we have exclusive accelerators and expansion packs to help ensure quick and successful solutions.

To learn more about collaborative apps and how Avanade can help you bring them to life at your organization, contact us today to register for one of our workshops.

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