The 10 trends that will influence collaboration in 2018

The full the repercussions of this year of disruption remain to be seen – for economies and the business world – and companies of all sizes are striving to be more responsive, flexible and agile in adapting to what’s around them.

This disruption has, by enlarge, often boiled down to bringing the best people together to overcome challenges and create solutions.

So, 2016 has also been a year of collaboration. As we move forward into 2018, we’ll see a very definite extension of this – as technology, business and people come together to work smarter and innovate more. Below are the ten of the top trends that will influence collaboration in 2018.

Collaborating further

Social media is now the default way to connect friends and family across borders, and social collaboration tools are firmly established in the modern workplace.

These, however, remain rooted in the individual – whether it’s activity based on a user profile or supporting how one person works more efficiently with others.

>See also: 10 predictions for the Internet of Things and big data in 2017

The next step will be moving away from what’s familiar (from using ‘social’ to reinforce connections people already have) to digital platforms that are designed to help explore new relationships, based on areas of expertise and channels of interest.

Specialist industries as early adopters

Expanding knowledge, networks and connections in this way will appeal to specialist industries, where the need for particular expertise and R&D is intense.

Whether that’s an engineer searching for technical support on one aspect of a pioneering infrastructure project, or a doctor researching new medical solutions for a geographical area: the ability to better investigate and gather niche knowledge, without the worry of traditional overheads, has the potential to transform these industries.

The freedom to innovate

It’s likely that two other groups will spearhead the uptake of evolving collaboration platforms.

Entrepreneurs, without the shackles of legacy systems or convoluted processes of larger organisations, will remain a driving force behind new ways of network building and knowledge sharing.

And, as technology continues to revolutionise the education system, university students that are eager to learn and innovate will also drive adoption.

>See also: 8 predictions for digital marketing in 2017

Campus Society, a digital platform for the global student community, has already seen 230,000 registered users – all hungry to collaborate – since launching in July.

Bringing business and talent together

Official figures show that, in the UK at least, overqualified graduates face fewer highly skilled jobs and growing unemployment.

Yet organisations are screaming out for ‘the next wave of top talent’. The societal implications of this range from undermining the financial value of degrees to stunting the future growth prospects of the UK.

The need for better collaboration between education and business is well established, but digital platforms are now helping bridge this divide.

By leveraging their backend data (in a sensitive way), these platforms allow targeted outreach by organisations, to reach suitable talent based on degree, work, experience and areas of interest.

Organisations under pressure

Recruitment is particularly important because, make no mistake, businesses are under pressure to get top talent in the door.

Innovation is happening at a faster pace than ever before, to the extent that it’s defining competitive advantage in many sectors, and collaboration is at the heart of it all.

>See also: Gartner’s top 10 IT predictions for 2017 and beyond

If 2017 has been the year of ‘digital transformation’ in response to this, 2018 will be fully realising that vision – enabling disparate workforces, wherever they are, whatever time zone they’re working in, whatever application/software/device they’re using, to come together and innovate.

Making IT mainstream

Empowering employees to work and collaborate in the ways they want is no longer just a nice to have, it’s expected.

This means a step change for technology and those that manage it. Employees across businesses are now ‘owning’ the technology they use –what they purchase, when they invest and how they manage it.

For IT teams, the challenge will be relinquishing control to let this happen, while maintaining the insight needed to ensure security isn’t compromised.

Spearheading pioneering technology

As mainstream collaboration becomes more digital the ‘tech heads’ will spearhead completely new ways of working together, using technologies like AI and VR.

These might stem from the gaming industry but they’re now starting to impact the world of business too.

Adoption will accelerate throughout 2018, as businesses explore new ways to boost employee engagement (through gamification of objectives and tasks) and creativity (visualising and interacting with creative ideas and concepts)

A change in mindset

Darwin stated: ‘in the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.’

If the technology behind continued collaboration in 2018 is one part, then the ‘learning’ aspect is the other.

The coming year will see a change in the cultural perception of collaboration, driven by new ways of sharing and exploring knowledge.

>See also: The Trojan horse: 2017 cyber security trends

Siloed thinking of personal advancement and the individual ownership of ideas will gradually be replaced by a more collective outlook, based on the advancement of teams or even entire businesses.

It might seem simple, but this carries implications for everything from setting objectives and career advancement to organisational structure and hierarchies.

Measure everything

Everything. Changes in collaboration ultimately change the way we work – which means we need to change how we’re measured, how we’re perceived and how ‘success’ is benchmarked.

A lot of this will be less tangible – how valued employees feel, how productive they’re being – but the fact that a lot of this transformation is ‘digital’ means that more can be measured.

Big data and analytics will continue to be powerful measurement resources throughout 2017, to track progress of new ways of working and inform the decisions that are made.

Smarter ways of working

This is what it boils down to. 2017 was a tumultuous year for a number of reasons and, from a collaboration perspective, it’s been disruptive in that new ways of exploring, sharing and building knowledge have (successfully) challenged how things are done and how people work.

2018 will be a year of refining the progress made so far: the opportunities from digital transformation and new ways of collaboration have been accepted, and recognised as vital. It will now be ensuring these are capitalised on.


Sourced by Rashid Ajami, CEO of Campus Society 

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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