Digital whiteboards: The next must-have tool for hybrid teams?

    The scope of office collaboration instruments out there to groups at the moment stretches far past something workers might need imagined two and a half years in the past. When work-from-home orders swept the globe in early 2020, most organizations had been targeted on guaranteeing that they had viable video and chat platforms in place. Now, as a major proportion of workers have determined to work exterior of the workplace for not less than a part of the work week, instruments that do extra than simply assist employees’ fundamental communication wants have gotten extra wanted.One product that has seen an explosion in development this yr has been the digital whiteboard. Also referred to as visible collaboration platforms or shared canvas apps, these instruments let hybrid groups collaborate visually by way of a web based interface.Between March and May 2022, Box, ClickUp, Mural, BlueJeans, and Zoom all made bulletins referring to the launch of a brand new whiteboarding product or vital updates to an current whiteboarding device. Why the flurry of exercise?Connecting a hybrid workforceData printed by Forrester in May 2022 reveals that 62% of enterprise and expertise professionals who’ve transitioned not less than a few of their workforce to full-time distant work because of the COVID-19 pandemic anticipate that they’ll keep a completely greater charge of full-time distant workers, even throughout historically in-person industries. As a results of these wide-reaching adjustments to the workforce, many organizations are trying to find methods to create a extra unified collaboration expertise for a geographically dispersed workforce.Digital whiteboard distributors say their platforms fulfill that want. Typically accessed by way of net browser, visible collaboration apps create persistent workspaces the place staff members can collaborate from any gadget, in actual time or asynchronously. In addition to drawing and writing instruments, the apps supply customers the power so as to add pictures, movies, diagrams, sticky notes, and different components. Several platforms supply integrations with enterprise instruments akin to Slack, Trello, Jira, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams.Andrew Hewitt, a senior analyst at Forrester, stated that digital whiteboards present a manner for organizations to scale back the friction between hybrid and distant employees. But, he famous, as a result of only a few individuals thought of a bodily whiteboard key to their work setup earlier than the pandemic, employees who had no want for a web based brainstorming device three years in the past are unlikely to be pushing for his or her adoption at the moment. Historically, the shopper base for digital whiteboard instruments is made up of builders or these working in artistic roles like design, not basic enterprise customers. So, not like extra conventional collaboration instruments akin to videoconferencing and chat platforms, which have an enterprise adoption charge of virtually 80%, digital whiteboarding instruments have but to develop into widespread within the company world.“Just like with any technology, getting people to deploy these tools and learn how to use them effectively is really important for their overall adoption — especially in this market where you’re asking people to collaborate in a way they might not be accustomed to,” Hewitt stated. Whiteboarding instruments are usually not only for “work” workIn November 2021, Research Nester estimated that the visible collaboration market is about to be value $1.67 billion by 2028. One firm working in that house is Figma, which affords a collaborative browser-based interface design device. The vendor’s FigJam whiteboarding resolution was launched in April 2021 and now counts Stripe, Twitter, Airbnb, and Netflix as clients. Adobe has simply introduced a $20 billion deal to amass Figma.Emily Lin, product supervisor at Figma, stated that even earlier than 2020, the corporate was seeing a pattern amongst Figma clients who had been utilizing the device to make the design course of extra collaborative. Engineers and challenge managers who weren’t conventional Figma customers had been beginning to use the device to collaborate with design groups in a manner the corporate had by no means seen earlier than.“We saw that people were beginning to push the platform beyond things like classic UI design and instead beginning to use Figma for things like ideating on what they should even design,” Lin stated.As a consequence, the corporate determined to launch a devoted device that might enable all these totally different groups to come back collectively in a single place and collaborate. When FigJam first hit the market, Lin stated it had two key use circumstances, one being ideation and brainstorming and the second being person flows and fundamental diagrams. However, after the launch of FigJam, the corporate noticed a spike in clients utilizing the platform as a method of socializing with groups. Users began sharing their distinctive FigJam use circumstances on Twitter and growing staff rituals akin to a Friday espresso chat or a video games evening.Now the platform affords extra playful capabilities, together with a photobooth that takes digital polaroid photos of whiteboarding session individuals, alongside the normal choices.External builders who use FigJam in knowledgeable capability have additionally prolonged the platform’s socializing capabilities. Lin stated the corporate is seeing a variety of particular person builders in addition to accomplice corporations construct add-ons which have pushed that finish purpose of serving to groups really feel extra related and engaged.“Someone created a widget that had different icebreakers and games that you can play with people, and there’s even things like Rock Paper Scissors. There are now all sorts of activities which are really fun and sit alongside your traditional JIRA and Asana widgets,” she stated. Although Figma is platform designed particularly for designers, Lin stated that 70% of FigJam’s new customers are individuals from different elements of the corporate.Financial companies and software program firm Stripe is certainly one of FigJam’s clients. Although the corporate declined to call the instruments it was utilizing earlier than FigJam got here onto the scene, Talia Siegel, product designer at Stripe, stated the opposite instruments didn’t supply templates that made it straightforward to brainstorm or work alongside many colleagues at a time.Like most clients, Stripe initially began utilizing the platform for staff brainstorms, however over time have embraced what she describes because the “playful side” of FigJam. “Illustrations, stickers, and emojis fill our brainstorming docs now. We also have used FigJam to create activities for team-wide bonding while working remotely,” she stated.What’s the way forward for the whiteboarding market?Despite the spate of product launches at first of the yr, Hewitt stated the market continues to be comparatively undersaturated. But, as the recognition of those instruments continues to develop, we’ll seemingly see extra distributors enter the house — in mid-August, for instance, graphic design platform Canva grew to become the newest firm to launch a whiteboarding product.“[For vendors] there’s always this question of: ‘Do I build it natively? Do I integrate or do I acquire something?’” Hewitt stated. “There’s also a lot of small vendors that would be ripe for acquisition in this space… but currently, there are only around six vendors total that are really making strides.”And the place FigJam has seen its use circumstances broaden past its unique objective, Hewitt stated that a variety of distributors on this house don’t wish to be seen as only a whiteboarding resolution, as a substitute specializing in the broader visible collaboration facet of this expertise that permits a number of sorts of collaboration, akin to content material creation, challenge administration, thoughts mapping, and design sprints, amongst others.As the market continues to develop, Hewitt stated we will anticipate to see these platforms combine with different applied sciences together with AR, VR, and the metaverse. “It’s very, very early days for that right now… but that is definitely something people are hypothesizing, that the market will move in that direction, and we’ll see better integration between AR and VR technologies and the visual collaboration tools themselves.”However, he warns that whereas workers might need began to see the advantages of accessing a visible collaboration device, standalone platforms may discover themselves struggling to develop their buyer base in a tricky financial local weather. If corporations are compelled to make troublesome budgeting choices, a one-off visible collaboration platform may fail to justify itself economically, in comparison with a less complicated whiteboard device included within the licensing value of a bigger unified communication platform that addresses an organization’s general collaboration technique.“[Whiteboarding tools are] an add-on capability, but it’s not the case that if you don’t have this product, you’re going fail as an organization,” Hewitt stated.

    Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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