How enterprise collaboration application latency impacts productivity

A guest post from Sharon Bell of CDNetworks.

An enterprise collaboration application (ECA) is any cloud-based business tool used to share information, facilitate productivity, and communicate with colleagues as well as clients. Email, web conferencing software, and collaboration platforms like Blackboard, SharePoint or HighQ Collaborate are just a few ways that we rely on enterprise collaboration applications for everyday enterprise project management.

From time to time, however, our collaboration tools can begin to slow down, testing our productivity and patience. The culprit? Latency.

What is latency?

Latency is the time it takes for a packet of data to travel the physical distance from its source to its destination. With an email, for example, the latent period would be however many (milli) seconds in between pressing ‘send’ and having your message arrive in your recipient’s inbox. The same concept applies for a lag in screen sharing during a web conference as well as the delay between a change made to your Google document and when it appears for your colleague, who may be working from home.

In application delivery networking, the combined levels of bandwidth (the amount of data per second that can be transferred) and latency (the time it takes to make the transfer over a distance) dictate the capacity and speed of ECA data transfers.

How does latency hinder productivity?

The highly dynamic cloud environment of an ECA means that it can be prone to failures. User performance can be severely impacted anywhere from a few hours to a few days due to intermittent latency issues that are difficult to pinpoint and correct. In addition to halting corporate collaboration, ECA latency can pull away your IT staff from other important projects to troubleshoot this tricky challenge.

Spending time trying to fix mission-critical malfunctions makes it harder for your IT staff to spend the time preventing these issues in the first place. It is possible that your collaboration tool could become more trouble than it’s worth, making your cost-effective investment in productivity a moot point. Latency isn’t just a one-time event of waiting a few seconds for something to load; it can stop an online meeting in its tracks when communication lags and becomes too difficult to decipher.

How does latency affect remote workers?

Latency can impact remote workers more significantly than in-office employees. Remote working increases the distance that dynamic content must travel which can produce a longer latent period and wait time. This is especially true on mobile devices. Fortunately, implementing a sound network infrastructure that is performance-optimized gives remote workers the ability to access ECA content quickly.

According to Wired Insights, this allows SharePoint users to load documents up to 75 times faster, regardless of distance from the original data. Simply put, you can ease the latency of your remote employees by making performance the focus of your ECA experience. When that is the case, your employees benefit as well as your bottom line.

How does latency impact the bottom line?

Businesses continue deploying cloud-based enterprise collaboration applications because they are generally cost effective and easily accessible across channels, including mobile devices. The primary technical challenge is continuously monitoring all elements in an application to ensure they are running smoothly within the network infrastructure, producing little user observed latency.

With so many elements, it can be difficult to optimize an ECA solution without spending money on some extra monitoring and upkeep tools. Ask your IT staff what they need to monitor your ECA and discuss ways to prioritize bandwidth to help balance the network performance burden with latency.

Ultimately, enterprise collaboration apps may improve productivity, but their latency issues could also account for unpredicted expenses to maintain stability and usefulness, which could slow down the growth of your bottom line.

How do I reduce latency?

Application performance management is challenging, but you don’t have to reduce latency alone. An application delivery network (ADN) is a service that uses points of presence through its own geographically dispersed network to speed up data delivery for your ECAs. Enterprise collaboration data traveling across an ADN doesn’t have to stop at as many points along the way to get to the finish line, decreasing latency.

In fact, HighQ experienced 1,000% improvement in download speeds and reduced latency in the U.S. by employing an ADN solution with CDNetworks. Dynamic Network Acceleration can help conquer latency in your enterprise collaboration applications. Knowing how it affects your business as a whole is the first step towards speeding things up.

About the author:

Sharon Bell is the Director of Marketing for CDNetworks, a global CDN provider that helps online businesses reach and delight their audiences around the world.

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