The Business Impact of Collaboration
Mannix Ryan of Dropbox Business led a workshop at the CIO Inspired conference in Dublin to share an insight into the business impact of collaboration. Discussing the increasing complexity in workflows, Mannix looks at how cloud collaboration can help teams become more efficient.
“Where Dropbox focuses is from the ground up,” Mannix says. “I want to talk about the people on the ground; the challenges they face, and how, if we can get them working together, we can drive better business results.”
Dropbox began as a way to store files and folders online, before introducing the ability to share folders with other people. “Nowadays that is commonplace, but 10 or 11 years ago it was quite revolutionary,” Mannix explains. “Today, we’re keeping teams in place. We’ve evolved from people, to groups, to businesses.”
Mannix addresses the issue of security early on, stating that Dropbox has bank-level encryption, complies with all relevant certifications and compliance standards globally, and integrates with a best-in-class security partner ecosystem. “Security is the foundation of everything that we do,” he says. Today, there are more than 400,000 businesses using Dropbox, including some of the world’s biggest brands.
The Dropbox team has found that as the workplace changes and becomes more complex, ‘work about work’ has become a barrier to productivity.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen massive changes in the way people work,” Mannix says. “Email has exploded, it’s moved into instant messaging, meetings have turned into video calls and life is getting very complicated. The teams are expanding – not just the teams that are in your business – now it’s freelancers and contractors. The files themselves are getting larger; they’re getting more complex and there are more of them.”
As an example, Mannix talks about a parole officer in Kansas named Beth. “In theory, she has a very simple IT setup,” he says. “We did a global user survey, and this was one of the most interesting ones because we thought it would have been most straightforward.” When Dropbox mapped out Beth’s day, identifying her information flow with all of the different people and teams that she has to deal with, it was actually very complex.
“She has drives, she has Dropbox, she has attachments, she has video calls,” Mannix explains. “She’s got lots of tools, and a lot of them are not talking to each other.”
Mannix adds that a key issue for Beth is the number of people she deals with on a daily basis – from within the police, the courthouse, clients and staff. “She might have 20 or 30 cases on the go at any one time,” he explains. “If you try to get the police and courthouse to speak to each other, you’ll find that it’s very difficult. At Dropbox, that’s what we think is the real opportunity – to really rationalise what’s going on out there.”
He refers to a McKinsey study that showed less than 40% of a worker’s time is spent doing the work that they’re paid to do, with the rest of their time spent searching for things and getting information from colleagues. “A lot of wasted time and effort,” Mannix says.
More people are now working remotely, with two-thirds of people around the world working away from the office at least one day a week. “Not only are they working away from the office one day a week, but they’re also working on more international and globally dispersed teams,” Mannix reveals.
Mannix believes that all of these changes are creating increasingly complex workflows and have contributed to the issue of work about work. “It’s leading to people tearing their hair out on a constant basis,” he says.
Dropbox aims to bring simplicity to this complexity, so that all of the tools people need to work can be found in the same place. “We want to take the file landscape that was set up in the 1980s and we want to bring it into 2020 and beyond,” Mannix says. He introduces some examples of how businesses have used Dropbox to simplify their collaboration.
In 2018, the BBC selected Dropbox as the strategic storage and collaboration platform for its entire workforce. “The BBC deals with a lot of complex processes. They have 25,000 employees, but then they have a massive ecosystem of freelancers,” Mannix explains. “They have photographers; they have actors and actresses; they have logistics people; they have sets. They’re out on-site in the middle of nowhere.”
With files constantly increasing in size and complexity, it became increasingly difficult for all of the people working with the BBC to communicate and collaborate. “You’ve got this big corporate with this fantastic IT infrastructure, and you’ve got the man in the van – how do you get the man in the van to talk to the system?” Mannix asks. “And what if there are 10 men in 10 different vans? How do they all talk together? The BBC selected Dropbox to bring that simplicity to the complexity that they were seeing.”
At Expedia, employees have used Dropbox Business to collaborate with their teams all over the world, no matter what device they’re using or where they are working. The teams have utilised Dropbox as much more than just a file-sharing tool, using it to connect and communicate with globally dispersed teams. “We’re moving beyond cold storage,” Mannix says. “Cold storage is 10 years ago.”
Tinder has used Dropbox to simplify processes for its designers, following the extremely fast growth of the business. “How do you grow a business from zero to 300 million downloads and change an entire way of social activity – and do it efficiently?” Mannix asks. “Dropbox is a part of that.”
For the Tinder designers, each project can take up to eight months with 600 files and up to 30GB, with the teams of freelancers and contractors spread all over the world. Dropbox has allowed them to collaborate easily with increasingly large and complex files.
Mannix’s third case study is Built, one of Australia’s biggest and fastest-growing construction companies. Built is an example of how simplifying the ways that workers collaborate can have a positive impact on a business’s bottom line. Before Dropbox, Built employees were putting out one or two tenders per week; this has now increased to 15 tenders a week.
“If you’re putting in two tenders a week, at even a 50% success rate, and then you start putting in 15 tenders a week – and your success rate remains constant – you’re up to seven and a half successful tenders a week,” Mannix explains. “In construction, everything is outsourced: the architect is not your employee; the quantity surveyor is not your employee. You might have in-house engineers; you’ve got to deal with the planning authority; you’ve got to deal with the client. The complexity of these ecosystems requires simplicity. That’s really what we’re getting at when we talk about collaboration.”
To finish, Mannix discusses Movement, a fashion company in California. The business grew quickly using a wide network of collaborators, with up to 100 different content creators working together at any one time. Using Dropbox, the teams can work efficiently to share ideas, add links and images, make comments and give feedback. They also rely heavily on the mobile app for remote access when working away from the office.
“Movement manufacture in Asia; they have graphic designers; they have photographers; they have a social media following,” Mannix says. “They’ve gone from zero to 30 million in turnover within the space of a couple of years. They are growing at pace, disrupting an industry – that’s where we see the business impact of collaboration.”
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Check out Mannix Ryan’s full workshop at the CIO Conference in Dublin.