The office has evolved from a designated workspace to a gathering place for team collaboration. People work from home, while on the road and at customer sites. Cross-functional teams include employees, consultants and business partners who could be anywhere in the world.
Collaboration tools make this possible. Employees can collaborate via voice, video conferencing and instant messaging, and share documents and files. This not only enables flexible workstyles but boosts productivity, enhances customer service and speeds decision-making.
Not surprisingly, collaboration has become a key component of today’s business environment. In a recent Spiceworks survey, nearly 70 percent of IT professionals said collaboration is a high priority or even essential to the organization’s strategy. Sixty-eight percent of respondents feel that even greater attention to collaboration solutions would be valuable to end-users.
However, IT professionals are in the dark about the total cost of ownership (TCO) of collaboration solutions. A surprising 56 percent of survey respondents don’t know how much they are spending on subscriptions and licenses for conferencing and collaboration tools.
The problem is that few organizations have a coherent collaboration strategy. According to the survey, the average organization is using 4.4 different solutions across three different providers in an attempt to meet the high demand for collaboration. The four most commonly used collaboration tools are messaging (74 percent), web/screen sharing (72 percent), voice/audio (72 percent) and video (70 percent).
Use of multiple solutions and providers is widespread. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they have deployed or are considering using multiple collaboration solutions, and 66 percent said they use multiple providers.
Managing multiple systems not only increases costs, but creates other business and IT challenges. The top challenges include:
- network (28 percent) and bandwidth (27 percent) limitations
- dropped or disconnected conferences (26 percent)
- security restrictions preventing file sharing (25 percent)
- poor video quality (22 percent)
- compatibility issues (20 percent)
As a result, the TCO of collaboration far exceeds subscription and license fees. Other factors contributing to TCO include the infrastructure needed to support collaboration solutions (52 percent), IT troubleshooting (49 percent) and bandwidth requirements (48 percent).
Given the increasing role of collaboration in business success, organizations should take a strategic approach. The first step is to identify all of the collaboration tools currently in use as well as any gaps in functionality. This will likely require input from employees throughout the organization, as end-users often adopt collaboration tools without obtaining IT or management approval.
Stakeholders throughout the organization should evaluate the tools in use to determine if and how they overlap, and which ones best meet user needs. When narrowing down the selections, emphasize ease of use, integration with other applications and platforms, and security and regulatory compliance. Cost should be considered, but keep in mind that simply consolidating and rationalizing collaboration will likely save money.
Once a suite of tools is selected, management should dictate the use of these tools and remind users of the reasons why “shadow IT” cannot be tolerated. Some users will be giving up their favorite platforms, so training should be provided to ease the transition and maximize value.
Collaboration is too critical to be left to chance. Let Verteks evaluate your needs and help you develop an effective collaboration strategy that will save money and drive efficiency, competitiveness and success.