Smart Collaboration: Takeaways from the X-change of 06/03/2018


Today, it seems few problems can be solved by one person or one department. Complex challenges require people with specialised knowledge to work together and to share their information, perspectives and expertise outside of knowledge siloes, and even across companies and countries.


Smart collaboration promises a way to make this happen, but what’s the reality? At this session, we heard directly about the experiences, learning and best practices of two very large companies.


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First, Philippe Malarme, Head of I&O Engineering, and Benoit Roosens, Head of I&O Collaboration and Application Engineering / Ageas Group IT Cloud Foundations, of AG Insurance, gave us an update of the Unified Communications project they presented at a 2016 X-change.


While the UC project was rolled out years ago, it is now being further developed into a smart collaboration project.  One of the challenges is in network performance – which can be a source of frustration for call centre agents in particular. Privacy and social challenges remain a factor as well, for example within the framework of voice recording.


AG Insurance is experimenting with the possibilities of augmented reality video, but it isn’t easy to integrate smoothly. Also, AG Insurance uses SharePoint for collaboration, but the community site part remains difficult - mainly because of the cultural changes required.


Next, Philippe and Benoit talked about their tortuous road to O365.  While business users become quickly enthused by new, trendy collaboration tools, their enthusiasm quickly fades when a tool shows its limitations – or when some new tool appears.  The complexity is increased by compliance, security and other issues (slide 18).


The road to Smart Collaboration requires several changes in company culture - independent of the area of collaboration.  Benoit gave an overview of the road ahead (slide 28), which includes the development of new capabilities, such as using Forms, Power BI, PowerApps and Flow.


Next Johan De Belie, Business Development at Proximus stated that digital disruption is happening - whether companies want it or not - and digital transformation remains a challenge.  This transformation is all about maximising employee productivity while saving costs and keeping them happy.  Employee mobility, customer engagement, business continuity and lower operational costs all enter the mix, too.


Johan sees three hot topics in the digital transformation trajectory (slides 5-10)

  • Mobile first
  • The phygital workplace
  • Operational excellence: "User profiling is key here - no migration without user adoption."


Proximus' expertise was an excellent introduction to the Smart Collaboration project at KBC.  Kristof Loots, ICT Architect at KBC, shared his experience from that project. KBC is now using its Smart Collaboration tools to the fullest, especially the presence tool, Skype for Business and integrated video.


Kristof shared an overview of KBC's further roadmap: integration with mobile solutions, further roll-out of Skype for Business, usage of Teams, etc. One important challenge for this bank and insurance company is the integration between internal and external collaboration, for voice, video and chat - for video in particular this is a difficult task.  Another challenge is the integration with other applications - CRM and business processes.














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