Virtual Team Communications Literature Review 'Literature Review' chapter

Excerpt from 'Literature Review' chapter :

When portals are designed to the specific requirements of Web 2.0 design objectives, companies with virtual teams are finding they can attain higher levels of shared task ownership as well. This is because there are significantly greater levels of trust overall throughout an organization based on the collective contributions of every member of a virtual and in-office team when they share their knowledge and information together (Mancini, 2010). Portals are not the catalyst of trust forming in virtual teams; transformational leadership is because it sets a standard of authenticity, transparency and by a leaders' example, sacrifice for the attainment of a greater goal (Balthazard, Waldman, Warren, 2009). Online tools including social networks, portals, and the e-mail accounts that fuel much of the content interchange all need to be galvanized with a shared vision of how to create virtual teams that trust each other and freely share their expertise and intelligence if the team is going to succeed. For many of the virtual teams that operate globally today, social networks' influence on entirely new approaches to communicating interactively are slowly overtaking e-mail as the dominant platform for interactive communication (Turban, Liang, Wu, 2011). The reliance on private Facebook groups, password-protected Twitter accounts and the increasing reliance on private label social networking platforms are overtaking the role of e-mail in daily conversations online (Bernoff, Li, 2008). An example of an application that has been specifically designed to capitalize on the social networking usability lessons learned is Salesforce.com Chatter, which combines the interactive communication aspects of Twitter with a Facebook-like screen layout and application structure. Chatter is now replacing traditional Outlook e-mail in many of Salesforce.com's largest customers including Qualcomm who claims Chatter increased their cost savings in it by up to 60%, according to a quote on the Salesforce.com website. Figure 2, Chatter from Salesforce.com shows how Facebook-like this interface is and how the interior flow of information is very similar to Twitter as well. Marc Benioff, during the company's annual DreamForce event in San Francisco chose to launch a free edition of Chatter to all customers so they could immediately begin using it. The result has been a significant increase in adoption of this communications application, which Salesforce.com has remarked is now replacing their use of internal e-mail systems. Conversation trails, support for a wide variety of data formats for uploading images and movies, and the integration of voice annotation is making Chatter a solid replacement for e-mail with virtual teams as well, according to the Salesforce.com website. Chatter can also be readily used across a variety of mobile devices including smartphones. Given the highly graphical nature of Chatter and its reliance on social networking design principles, it is anticipated that Oracle, Microsoft, SAP all will have comparable e-mail replacement platforms within 2011(Turban, Liang, Wu, 2011).

Figure 2: Chatter from Salesforce.com -- a replacement for traditional e-mail based on the lessons learned from social networks

Source:http://www.salesforce.com/chatter/gettingstarted/whatischatter/

Portals, e-mail programs and communications platforms virtual teams rely on are going through a revolutionary change right now thanks to the impact of Web 2.0 design goals influencing their structure and definition, and the lessons learned from social networks on improving usability and adoption (Bernoff, Li, 2008). Portals are going to continue become more capable of aligning to how virtual teams complete shared tasks, define team-based goals and measure results. The continued use of analytics and the ability to create customized key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics of performance are for the first time going to give virtual teams the opportunity to define measures of performance that capture what they really do instead of attempting to fit their activities into pre-conceived reporting structures. This ability to define KPIs and metrics of relevance will also be a disruptive innovation in the productivity of teams, as the use of very specific and focused KPIs and metrics will be a major break-through in determining the true contribution of teams (Guzman, Ramos, Seco, Esteban, 2010). Most importantly, this ability for virtual teams to define their own KPIs and metrics of performance will also lead to greater trust within and between teams (Jang, 2009). Trust is a very significant accelerator of achievement and accomplishment throughout and between virtual teams, as it fuels higher levels of collaboration and communication, and can be instrumental in much greater levels of accomplishment occurring as well. Technologies mentioned in this analysis contribute to this higher level of productivity from a personal and group standpoint by creating more real-time means of communicating and sharing information across broad geographic distances and time zones. The future of online communication, from portals to e-mail accounts and the transition to social network-based communication and collaboration platforms, will make smartphones and tablets more commonplace than PCs and traditional office systems today (Turban, Liang, Wu, 2011). It will be commonplace to see entire virtual teams using smartphones, tablets, and also interacting online seamlessly without regard to the platform or system they are using. This consumerization of technology will make virtual teams more capable of attaining complex shared goals efficiently and economically. Finally, the combined effects of all of these innovations will lead to the creation of learning systems that successfully support knowledge transfer across broad geographic teams globally (Lin, Chiu, Joe, Tsai, 2010). The virtual team and their workspaces will no longer be dictated by intensive technology investment on the hardware side of things, as the software and mobile operating systems including Apple iOS and Android are in the process of completely revolutionizing the necessary tools for contributing and excelling as a member of a virtual team.

Best Practices in Secured Web Conferencing

The one application that still requires many members of virtual teams to still hold onto their bulky laptops and in some cases, their expensive desktop PCs are the Web conferences they must participate in. These Web conferences are often required as team members often have two-way webcams set up to communicate and be seen on the call. Skype has become the free platform of choice for many of these Web conferences in small businesses, despite the lack of security

(Whitman, Mattord, 2005). Web conferencing has however grown exponentially in sophistication of its feature sets, support for third party protocols, and most importantly, in the area of security and presentation of multimedia content. The use of Web conferencing for briefings between the White House, the Pentagon and the U.S. headquarters in Iraq for example are all handled through secured Web conferencing technology based on the IPSec information security standard (OpenReach, 2002).

Companies who have standardized on secured Web conferencing have reported back being able to earn the payback of their systems within two years or less of use (Suduc, Bizoi, Filip, 2009). Adding to the rapid adoption of Web conferencing continues to be the uncertain and during some months, challenging economic climate the U.S. And global economies are facing. The worse the economic condition of a given economy a Web conferencing vendor is located in, the faster investment in Research and Development (R&D) increased (Suduc, Bizoi, Filip, 2009). The one company who is emerging as the global leader in R&D spending on the security aspects of Web conferencing is Cisco who regularly spends up to 7% of total revenues every year on R&D company wide, making innovation one of the most strategically important initiatives the company has (Xirasagar, Mojtahed, 2010).

Analysis of Web Conference Security

During the completion of this literature review it became apparent that the pace of innovation in Web conferencing security is accelerating. The many initiatives of Apple, and their iOS operating system, Microsoft with their next release of Windows 8 and enhancements to Windows 7, and Google with its impressive Android operating system are all focused on how to create a more effective security platform within Web conferencing. Each of these companies eventually wants to offer Web conferencing on their smart phones as Apple is offering on the latest iPad2, where bidirectional, real-time Web conferences can be held anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection or in the instance of an iPad2 with 3G wireless enabled, anywhere a signal is strong enough to support it. The future build-out of smartphones and tablets will be capable of hosting secured Web conferences anywhere, anytime. This is another disruptive innovation as to how virtual teams will be able to complete their tasks.

Web conferencing systems today share the common attributes including data entry and usability requirements, information access, and data protection & storage options and Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) (Baez, 2011). These factors taken together form the foundation of the industry's effort to create secured, role-based Web conferencing platforms that can scale across virtual teams with no degration in performance and no comprise to the security levels of the applications and data shared globally online, often in real time (Xirasagar, Mojtahed, 2010). The U.S. Department of Defense is attributed with creating the most scalable and secured platform for ensuring two-way communication across networks that are global in scope (Baez, 2011).

The many innovations occurring in Web Conferencing has also…

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