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Consolidating Collaboration Tools Without Single-Solution Risk

By Richard Buxton, Practice Director– Collaboration at Node4 

by uma

Hybrid collaboration has been a critical business enabler for the last two years. However, many organisations’ attempts to establish collaboration tools were a part of their crisis-mode survival tactics, rather than a strategic future-proof plan – and some have coasted at this level ever since. While, for the majority, this worked initially, many organisations are now struggling to deliver and scale to the levels of service they need using their existing infrastructure assets.Organisations need to know that hybrid collaboration shouldn’t mean settling for patchy data visibility and connectivity dropouts, underdeveloped communications channels, and inferior security – they can migrate to a single, complete collaboration solution. Contrary to common integration concerns, it’s relatively simple to integrate existing technologies into a single solution and the considerable benefits of consolidating collaboration technology go much further than this.

 

Dispelling the myths of hybrid collaboration

The teething problems of adopting hybrid collaboration are symptomatic of businesses continuing with solutions built from many different technologies. In addition, impersonal or impractical specifications implemented ad-hoc, at speed, or with budgets that didn’t quite stretch far enough also created the same obstacles.  Although these factors earned it a less than fanfare reception at the pandemic outset, it has improved despite frank user and customer experience feedback.

And in the context of hybrid working, shadow IT continues – a hangover from the mass switch to remote working and the following adjustment period. With organisations shifting gear from their business-critical strategies, they are getting ROI and more from hybrid collaboration by migrating to a single, complete collaboration solution.

 

The benefits of consolidating collaboration technology

Offering a more sophisticated way to co-work with colleagues and communicate with customers allows an organisation to be more efficient and agile in response to external market changes. Consolidating collaboration technology improves workflows and boosts operational efficiencies to enhance service delivery, boosting customer loyalty and impacting the bottom line. The key benefits include:

  • Enhanced customer service through complete, real-time visibility across all collaboration tools and data sources – whether on-site or at home, your teams have the data and functions immediately to hand to enable engagement with customers wherever and whenever, generating the best CX outcomes.
  • Boosted productivity through streamlining tech users’ time – with all tools in one intuitive environment, less time is spent moving between systems and searching for information, thus empowering a productive way of working that is focused on value.  
  • Better controlled costs through minimising the number of tools required to enable internal and external communication – infrastructure that doesn’t add value can be identified and phased out, while admins can closely monitor and offset usage costs to prevent them from spiralling.  
  • Improved compliance posture – since all collaboration and communications data is generated from, stored within, and processed by a consolidated and governed environment, critical blind spots exist which might otherwise mask regulatory risk or breach.
  • Better determined decision making with access to rapid, accurate and complete reporting across all activities – providing an at-a-glance view, as well as the minutiae of detail, consolidating collaboration tools allows teams to more easily identify areas for CX improvement or understand where time is misspent to make better business decisions.

The right integration is vital

Unvalidated user concerns and unfounded myths continue to challenge the universal adoption of consolidating collaboration technologies – particularly around the feasibility of “living in” one environment. Tech teams are concerned whether one solution can realistically perform all the unique functions that their business requires to operate efficiently, compliantly, and competitively? And around the costs of customising environments and their apps to specific organisational objectives? Some have questioned if it’s a higher risk to consolidate and if this means a single point of failure.

These concerns, however, do not consider integration. Taking a tightly integrated approach, with built-in resilience, organisations can reap the benefits of consolidating collaboration with none of the operational risk. Integration means that functions from a wider range of selective applications, systems and data sources can be performed, managed, and reported on from a core, consolidated solution. You retain the flexibility and precision of specific, varied functions (including any data sources, legacy technology, or industry-specific software you need), but benefit from the speed, visibility, and accessibility of one remote hub.

Every collaboration and communications consolidation project must be tailored, which includes the platform itself and its integrations. Using fully supported Microsoft Teams or  Webex as the core collaboration solution, there are some key considerations to ensure best practice in bringing everything together: 

  • Reduce data silos and enhance real-time, accurate and complete visibility – data from on-premises or cloud environments can be integrated and shown within collaboration platforms. This means that your business collaboration, agility, and decision-making isn’t negatively impacted if you are subject to strict storage and processing requirements.
  • Mitigating single-solution risk with robust data backups and platform redundancy – by deploying in a private cloud, Azure public cloud or colocation environment, using a consolidated platform poses no risk to data availability, sovereignty, or security. Resiliency is built-in, and you can design and implement backup and redundancy tailored to your operational threats and risk.  
  • Integration – It’s worth integrating functions such as regulatory monitoring, payment processing and customer experience training into your collaboration solution. Make sure you find a platform with supporting functions that suit your organisation so that it can be integrated with your preferred options.

Accessing new opportunities

The way we work fuels innovation. As hybrid and remote working shapes up to be a permanent fixture, organisations are looking carefully at how to rethink their collaboration solutions to gain a more sustainable, competitive edge. Those that plan a collaboration roadmap to make collaboration technologies work hardest for their organisation will be the winners.

 

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