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You’ve no doubt heard of the revolution taking place in workplace collaboration tools. From social messaging apps like Snapchat, to mobile video conferencing to desktop chat tools, a lot has changed about the way we get work done.

But in case you thought there were simply too many new collaboration technology tools to keep up with, well, the revolution’s not over yet. Check out these new tools poised to transform our work experiences in 2017 and beyond.

1. Project Collaboration Software

With all the aforementioned collaboration apps flooding the market, the end result has been that a huge influx of different tools are being used simultaneously by different members of your team. With everyone working in disconnected apps, the proposed benefits of collaboration are fast becoming over-rated.

Many teams are turning to project collaboration software to unify the experience for the team and keep all the project collaboration work connected to the project itself.

So what the heck is project collaboration software?

Simply put, it is online project management software that supports team collaboration. The whole team can manage projects, tasks and their work wherever they’re located, all the while discussing their work via chats or Facebook like interfaces.

Even traditional project management software features like Gantt charts (essentially spreadsheets that also have those horizontal bars showing task start and end dates) have become interactive collaboration platforms, enabling teams to plan projects together, share files, and add discussions and notes right on the task level.

2. Virtual Reality Meetings

Virtual reality (VR) headsets were the hottest gift for the holidays this past year, but many mistake the new technology as being strictly for entertainment. VR is here to give those seemingly mundane aspects of office life a new kind of immersive experience.

There are many applications for using VR for presentations. They can be used to test proposed products with remote focus groups by gauging reactions to a product in an immersive environment, showcase an office to an out of town prospective employee, or make data visualization come alive with interactivity.

Meetings are usually best suffered in the form of stale slide presentations, bulleted talking points, and infographics. Now, imagine a 3D Powerpoint in a 360 degree environment along with data visualizations.

VR will allow teams to present data in ways that are much more clear and engaging, and with all the excitement surrounding VR, perhaps will make winning over your boss or the board a much easier task.

3. High-Def Video Conferencing

Video conferencing software keeps adding new features each year to make remote virtual meetings less annoying and much more productive, and the latest collaboration improvements don’t disappoint.

For example, brainstorming has gotten an upgrade. Collaborative whiteboards and ideation spaces allow you to sketch out notes and ideas for everyone to see and add what they wish, during the live video teleconference.

Immersive room experiences with advancements in audio engineering and 4k video let you really, really feel like you were there. This solves the need for teams to strain forward with one ear angled at the solo iPhone on the table.

Video zoom and facial recognition technologies let the camera do the work of capturing speakers when they talk in a physical room. Not sure what happens when everyone starts talking over each other.

All of these advancements in the quality of the video and audio don’t come cheap, but as with most new technologies, there’s opportunity at scale.

4. Ambient Intelligent Design (that’s a thing)

The most effective form of smart technology that will be ever more present is being built into the structure of offices around the world. Referred to as Ambient Intelligent Technology (AmI), an offshoot of “The Internet of Things,” AmI will collect data on employee behavior, sync with their internet-connected devices, and save energy costs through sustainability-focused machine learning.

The effects of AmI on collaboration will be, shall we say, longer-term. AmI will build behavior profiles on employees (a little unnerving) and recommend best practices when it comes to when and how to deliver information to specific employees and teams.

The possibilities of AmI are seemingly endless – imagine ideas being captured intelligently in one room and then available for re-integration in another. Imagine AI recommendations based on previous verbal conversations. Or instant data-visualizations based on collaborations in a shared interactive smart-whiteboard meeting.

The challenge will be for companies to best utilize the tons of data that AmI and The Internet of Things will provide to come up with unique and innovative strategies with that information, without, of course, becoming evil overlords.

New collaboration possibilities are endlessly exciting. And yet new project collaboration software is already powered to truly harness the possibilities of human interaction to improve inefficiencies and communication. The good news is, if you’re still trying to collaborate with 7 different apps, you can take that leap right now to get the project collaboration happening in one centralized place online. AmI might need to wait awhile.

-- Guest post by Alex Brown
Alex writes about collaboration tools, PM best practices, and other tech trends at ProjectManager.com.

Fred
Fred is Azendoo CMO. She focuses her work on Azendoo Users and on finding the best productivity hacks. Besides, she's all about snowboard, couture and books.
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