These responses from our CEO, Jerod Venema, were originally included in CIOReview.com's article, “Why Every SaaS Company Needs a Remote Collaboration Strategy.”
In a recent Citrix survey of global IT leaders, 100% said they were planning to adopt a hybrid working model for the foreseeable future. This is unheard of - 100% of IT leaders agreeing on something. This unanimous agreement could not be clearer in calling out that distributed workforces are here to stay. For makers of software as a service (SaaS) products, this presents a clear message: when your users collaborate on your software, they are doing so remotely and not in the same room.
Since you know your users are working together over screens rather than in person, what's your plan to help them collaborate effectively? Email notifications whenever a document changes don't cut it any more - everyone adds a filter to their inbox and shoves that noise to an archive. It's tempting to shrug off these concerns and leave real time collaboration to your customers to figure out. This is the status quo. Shove the problem to the customer. If they have to break their train of thought, change up workflows, open two other methods of communication (email a link around?) and enter yet another Zoom meeting, why do you care, as long as your product works?Every SaaS company needs to fundamentally consider how remote collaborators work together on their platform. Here we'll explore what your users really want from remote collaboration and how SaaS providers can use WebRTC technology to help people work better together, wherever they are.
What users want from remote collaboration - and why that requires change.
When you picture great collaboration, what scenarios come to mind? Maybe you picture an operating table where all the doctors and nurses know their roles and share a common focus on the same surgery. Perhaps you think of a design team where everyone has their preferred workstation but can freely talk and exchange ideas inside a shared studio. As an engineer, I visualize a team of software developers working in sync on a product where everyone sees their code as part of the interdependent whole.
Common focus. Seamless communication. Integrated experience. That's what people want when they work together - so why does remote collaboration often fall short? It's tempting to shrug and conclude remote collaboration will never be as good as in-person collaboration. The truth is too many of us have accepted a video call status quo that isn't the future of remote teamwork, but also isn't even the best of what we're currently capable of. We're dependent on good enough external video call software instead of integrating live video collaboration into our existing work context.
For example, I recently ran a whiteboard session with a dozen sales and marketing people. I needed to be able to draw pictures, add text and show slides while I handled their questions in real time. To accomplish this, I had to Frankenstein an experience together between a whiteboard app on my iPad (so I could use the Pen - very handy if you haven't tried it), our company calendar system and a desktop conferencing application for screen sharing. The only way for this to work was to schedule with on app, screen share with the video call app, and draw with the whiteboard app. This worked, but the uneven experience required me to constantly shift context and ask that regular and cursed question: Can you see my screen?
After the last two years, everyone has one of these rough remote collaboration stories—and for the 52% of people who spend at least four hours a week on video meetings, it can be a daily occurrence. None of your users want to keep working together like this. It’s time for SaaS companies to redouble their focus on what remote users actually want, and it’s not to click in and out of a 3rd-party app to see a big grid of talking heads. Instead, they want a more intuitive way to collaborate with anyone from anywhere inside their preferred work context.
The sublime simplicity of collaborating inside our chosen context.
You want your SaaS app to be a complete, unbroken experience—especially when your users are collaborating remotely. On average, people take nearly ten minutes to get back into a productive workflow each time they switch between digital apps. Every time your users have to switch away from your SaaS product to a third-party video chat platform or other collaboration tool to talk to teammates, you’re sapping their focus and increasing their frustration.
Seamlessly integrating video communication into your SaaS platform should be on your development roadmap. This enables users to stay in their productive context instead of breaking flow to talk to coworkers or clients in a separate app. WebRTC technology already provides the flexibility needed for video integration across devices. For example, LiveSwitch recently helped ProPhoenix add live video chat to their public safety platform, enabling emergency responders to communicate more effectively with 911 callers inside the platform.
Imagine how much better customer relationship management (CRM) systems could work with built-in video calls. When sales teams contact prospects today, they have to use third-party video conferencing apps for these meetings and then manually add in recordings and notes themselves. In other words, the most important part of the sales process (and all the associated data) is not actually integrated into the CRM platform. With WebRTC integration, a CRM system could automatically record and analyze a video meeting with a potential customer, then add these insights directly to that customer’s profile. This would significantly increase the data captured from each customer conversation and make it easier to use that data to close deals.
The future of your SaaS applications will be decided by how well you enable remote collaboration. This makes it vital you look for ways to integrate live video into your SaaS product so remote users can work with others inside their chosen context—no disruption or external app required.