Collaboration defined simply is—two or more people working together toward a shared goal. Putting it into an organizational context, collaboration refers to the process of how one function feeds into the other to accomplish a common goal.
Over the years, meetings have become a linchpin for cross-functional collaboration. The number of meetings has doubled during the last two years of the pandemic—and yet collaboration across the meeting lifecycle (before, during and after the meeting) is broken. Phrases such as Zoom fatigue is a testimony to how we use meetings and lack of productivity from it.
As business professionals, we attend a lot of meetings but the information discussed is often siloed among the meeting participants. The intelligence derived from these meetings (internal or customer-facing) never becomes common knowledge to people across functions in the organization.
Before we get to ‘why meeting collaboration is broken, and what the fix is’, here’s a quick overview of how the tools used for organizational communication have evolved over the years.
We have come a long way from having systems whose primary focus was to only keep information records. The most successful organizations are the ones that have collaboration built into every role and have systems enabling it.
And yet, when it comes to meeting collaboration—it’s a very siloed experience. Despite the availability of several conversation intelligence platforms, the intelligence from meetings somehow seems to be exclusive to customer-facing teams like sales or customer success. It’s a huge loss to keep the leverage of conversation intelligence confined to a few teams and their use cases like note-taking or sales coaching.
A modern workplace needs tools—and systems—that democratizes the access to intelligence from conversations (customer-facing as well as the internal meetings) across the board.
And that means conversation intelligence tools that give you actionable insights from all your calls (conversations happening over Dialers like Aircall, SalesLoft, Outreach, etc.) and meetings (done via Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) also need to come with an understanding of your organizational workflows.
Unless we start looking at the entire meeting lifecycle—how do we prepare before the meeting, what happens during the meeting, and how do we make the most of it after the meeting, our collaboration experience will remain broken.
When Avoma was launched in 2017, the primary mission was to make meetings smarter and actionable. Our product was a reaction to the broken meeting workflow and the myriad of problems it caused such as loss of important data and context across the meeting lifecycle, including the plethora of tools used in the process.
In terms of meeting collaboration, we often notice that different teams use different tools leading upto the meeting, during the meeting for taking notes, and after the meeting for updating their notes, scheduling follow-ups, etc.
The more tools you use, the more difficult it becomes to switch context for collaboration. For example, a sales person demoing the product to a prospect over Zoom is focused on the sales discovery, whereas a product manager who listens to the recorded meeting asynchronously, is trying to learn how the customer uses their product. And, a sales leader listening to the conversation is looking to give feedback to their reps.
The point—everyone across the organization is going to leverage meetings differently in their own context. And that context switching is where meeting collaboration begins to fall apart.
You don’t need 10 different tools for meeting collaboration. You just need one meeting lifecycle assistant that covers for you end-to-end.
If there’s one thing that we can learn from the ongoing pandemic, it’s the fact that collaboration is a force that breaks through the organization’s walls and geographical boundaries. Businesses that had an adaptable collaborative culture were the ones that responded quickly and effectively to the uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
The downside of collaboration in today’s age is that it has led to an increase in communication volume from all quarters. For organizations, it’s a complex web of internal meetings, countless emails, and endless phone conversations. Externally, they also have to manage customer expectations who are more informed, vocal, and anxious than ever.
Arguably, the future of our businesses in such a chaotic, fast-paced world depends on our ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. We need to replace the traditional channels of collaboration (e.g., an overload of meetings) with AI assistants that can sort out, filter, or organize wasteful communications to give us insightful and actionable intelligence.
And it’s a trend we are already seeing across the business communication spectrum. Here are a few examples of AI-based tools that are replacing conventional communication channels to make collaboration more effective for everyone.
The biggest boon to modern-day collaboration is the ongoing proliferation of horizontal platforms—like the ones on the right column—that are designed to be used by different teams.
Unlike point or domain based (vertical) solutions, horizontal platforms have a broader use case and offer wide-range utilities not limited to just one or two teams. Instead, they cater to serve organization-wide use cases and provide collaboration-friendly features baked into the platform.
Democratizing conversation intelligence across the board and facilitating a collaborative workflow is where the future is at. And that belief system forms the core of what Avoma is all about.
Avoma addresses this issue at its core and solves the problem efficiently. Unlike other conversation intelligence tools, Avoma doesn’t confine its offerings to sales, customer success, or other customer-facing teams. By design, Avoma democratizes meeting intelligence to all teams in the organization even if they aren’t part of the conversation.
Avoma also flows into your existing processes instead of forcing you to change your workflows. Avoma is built with the understanding that meeting collaboration is different in a five-person startup than it is at a 2000-member enterprise. Avoma offers fluid capabilities that truly enhance cross-functional collaboration and scale up or down with your requirements.
By enabling bespoke collaboration across the organization, Avoma reduces your dependency on a wide variety of tools. This means lower costs, lesser administrative hassles, and more time for you to focus on doing meaningful work.
The problem with most conversation intelligence tools is that they are only designed for a few teams like sales, customer success, or other customer-facing teams. And that creates the following gaps:
In an organizational setting, everybody wins when they have equal access to customer insights and the means to collaborate cross functionally.
Democratizing meeting intelligence not only helps different teams in an organization in terms of context and action items, it sets a clear flow of communication and reduces execution gap.
Besides driving website traffic, creating content and generating demand, marketing also contributes to sales and customer success by helping them improve the customer experience.
So, marketing teams can leverage conversation intelligence to not only get a hang of how customers think, but also an overview of their primary use cases and business needs. This helps them structure their marketing programs around what’s valuable for the customers, and not their own assumptions or the standard feature-benefit list.
It also helps product teams get important insights about what are the most sought-after product features, what customers don’t like about your current product, and how to make the product more useful for customers. These are signals that help a product team build a feedback loop with customers and other teams while developing truly customer-focused products that the users will love.
Recruitment teams can leverage conversation intelligence software to record, transcribe, summarize, and analyze the interviews and the internal discussions in terms of factors to shortlist candidates. The collaborative aspect of the software enables you to turn these conversations into a searchable knowledge base that anyone in your organization can access, share, or collaborate on.
Where most conversational intelligence platforms fail is—they assume that the insights come only from customers and prospects’ conversations, and therefore there is no need to record, transcribe, summarize or capture intelligence and action items from conversations internal to the organization.
For instance, you might want to record your internal product roadmap meetings so that everyone has access to what was agreed upon, the action items for each individual. Recording these conversations using a conversation intelligence tool creates an opportunity to also have a strong feedback loop (which is the most important component of meeting collaboration).
For starters, a feedback loop not only helps you in holding accountability for each other, but also reduces the need for more meetings. Think of sales coaching as an example. When a new recruit joins your team, gets trained and begins to demo and sell independently—sales managers will want to monitor the conversations and offer feedback for improvement.
Here’s how you can improve the feedback loop leveraging meeting collaboration features in Avoma:
Instead of the sales manager scheduling a separate meeting to understand the different meetings taken by the sales rep, and offering feedback for improvement—sales leaders can simply comment on the conversation transcript to offer contextual and specific feedback.
Using a conversation intelligence tool like Avoma to record, transcribe, and analyze important conversations offers you the best of both worlds—synchronous and asynchronous communication styles. For instance, Avoma’s real-time collaboration capabilities help you streamline your customer conversations that happen synchronously. At the same time, you can leverage the platform to facilitate asynchronous communication such as sales coaching, self-paced learning, and exchange of feedback.
Avoma is a horizontal SaaS platform, which means it aims to solve the overall organizational meeting lifecycle needs rather than individual needs. Avoma is to meeting collaboration and intelligence space what Salesforce, Quickbooks, and HubSpot are for CRM, accounting, and marketing automation domains respectively.
Horizontal platforms are exactly the opposite of vertical tools that are targeted to solve the problems of a particular organizational function or domain.
If you have to look at the overall meeting lifecycle, there are several parts to it such as note taking, transcribing, coaching, conversation intelligence, deal intelligence, etc.
Here is how the meeting lifecycle tools landscape looks like:
The Avoma advantage is that you don’t need multiple point solutions. Avoma is a meeting lifecycle assistant that’s got you covered end-to-end.
And here’s the interesting aspect about Avoma—though the platform is very horizontal and can add value across functions in an organization, you don’t necessarily need to roll it out to the entire org in one-go. Avoma is built to scale with your needs.
For instance, you can start with sales or customer success teams using Avoma and then scale the use case to other functions in the organization (once the benefits become obvious, observing the users of Avoma).
And it doesn’t have to be sales or any other customer-facing team that inducts Avoma into the organization. Any person at any organizational hierarchy can introduce Avoma to their colleagues—making it possible for Avoma to either expand top-down or bottom-up.
This is a more mature way to use any software in your organization to make use of the several advantages it offers:
Also, Avoma as a solution doesn’t try to fit you into its workflow and hence it doesn’t force every user to pay for its entire suite of features. Yes, the platform follows a land-and-expand model of growth. But teams pay only for the features that they choose to use (depending on their use case/need)—while still being able to leverage its collaborative features at no additional cost.
Avoma’s collaborative capabilities make it an application that users love to use not just across teams, but across organizations and industries. It’s one of the reasons why Avoma is on a fast track to growth despite operating in a competitive landscape. We have been able to scale up fast especially in the SMB domain due to the customer referrals that we have earned organically over the years. While it has helped us gain more visibility to a wider audience, it has also helped us understand the unrealized market potential of conversation intelligence.
And it’s mutual—our customers see a compounding value with scale when they start using Avoma to solve specific problems and extend the platform’s scope to fight bigger battles. As we grow, we will continue to improve customer-fit and build an ecosystem of transparency and seamless collaboration.