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Should team collaboration apps be stand-alone or integrated?

Team collaboration can be deployed as part of an integrated offering or as a separate app. Our expert explains why IT may not have much control over collaborative environment decisions.

Choosing to deploy a team collaboration app as a stand-alone service or as an integrated collaboration offering has no clear answer. At the end of the day, IT decision-makers have less control than they would probably like.

In an ideal world, IT would have centralized control over all collaboration applications. IT would decide whether team collaboration should be a separate app, such as Slack, or integrated with a broader unified communications (UC) platform, like Microsoft Teams. Centralized control would simplify things for IT and would likely be valued by end users, assuming their needs are met.

These decisions can get complicated, as team collaboration works best in situations where teams work together regularly. Most teams have already established an efficient mode of collaborating and have a hierarchy of the features most valuable to them. Messaging tends to be of particular value, as it often serves as the main mode of communication due to its persistent nature. These kinds of elements are not always central to the UC value proposition, making them a complementary addition to overall collaboration tool sets.

Most integrated team collaboration app deployments are not ideal and are often complex. Today's collaboration offerings are mostly cloud-based and highly user-centric. Individual end users and teams can access collaboration products independent of IT, creating a variation of shadow IT.

IT really doesn't have a choice and must accept a certain loss of control for managing the overall collaboration environment. There is nothing wrong with integrating team collaboration apps into a UC deployment -- and many vendors do -- but it's unrealistic to expect this will be the preferred solution for everyone.

No matter what collaboration vendor you choose, you will have groups in your organization that have a distinct preference for different team collaboration platforms, and IT can do little to prevent that. In short, IT needs to be flexible, as it will be very difficult to deploy a singular collaboration platform that is ideal for both IT and end users.

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