Navigating the Downside of Team Collaboration Apps

Team collaboration applications— think tools like Slack and Atlassian’s Stride — and are taking the workplace by storm. According to a study by Smartsheet, more than 80% of decision-makers report their team collaboration apps are utilized across their entire business, and Mobile Business Insights has reported (via research from Business2Community) that these internal communication tools can increase team productivity by as much as 25%. But there is a downside to the proliferation of team collaboration apps within organizations — and it’s just that, proliferation.

Smartsheet’s survey suggests that more than half of organizations in North America use at least six different collaboration applications, based on the responses of over 1,000 IT leaders. That’s a lot of apps for employees to manage. It’s also a lot of vendors for decision makers to keep track of. Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, agrees, and he explored the challenges of team collaboration app sprawl in a recent article on No Jitter. Let’s take a look at some of his insights for business leaders.

Applications are a Viral Bug

At many organizations, collaboration apps are adopted ad hoc by departments, teams and sometimes even individuals. Not only does this present massive security and compliance issues for IT staff, it also creates silos where employees are forced to switch between apps to maintain basic communication with each other. This model of viral app adoption is not sustainable.

Interoperability is a Challenge

The sprawl of disparate team collaboration apps introduces even more inefficiencies when you factor in the topic of interoperability. Each team requires a unique exchange of and access to information, and not every residential collaboration app is built with the same third-party integration capabilities. In an age that is increasingly driven by anywhere, anytime access to data, a lack of interoperability between collaboration technologies presents a huge barrier to success.

Comparing Solutions

With so many different applications in motion at one time, how are you ever supposed to objectively and comprehensively assess and evaluate each one? Like with most technologies, feature sets will vary dramatically between products – as will the way your teams utilize these features. Elements like pricing, support and add-ons also differ from vendor to vendor. All things considered, this mosh pit of apps and vendors makes it difficult to measure each technology’s effectiveness and your organization’s ROI.

Choice of Vendor is Everything…

Team collaboration apps are far from a lost cause. Quite the contrary, in fact. However, there is one important factor to consider when you deploy these apps at your organization — your choice of vendor. A panel at Enterprise Connect showed that one of the most important elements of a collaboration technology investment is finding the right combination of vendor and solution, a decision which may, unfortunately, be easier said than done.

…but Be Careful.

Over the past couple of years, many unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) vendors have started rolling apps like Slack, Glip, and Trello into their solution offerings — at a cost. This may seem like a great option up front, but can ultimately lead to unnecessary and unwanted charges if you’re paying for tools you don’t use. At Select, we encourage you to evaluate UCaaS vendors based on the needs of both your business and users. From there you can work up the chain to explore the possible tools and feature sets you need and the vendors that provide them.

This process can get complex, so it never hurts to have a knowledgeable, objective resource on hand to offer guidance. In fact, if you’d like a free cost analysis of the team collaboration apps you’re currently using, we’ll provide it for you! Contact us today to get started.