This content is part of the Essential Guide: Reaping the business benefits of collaboration tools

Software for team collaboration presents deployment challenges

When organizations evaluate team collaboration apps, should IT or lines of business implement the service? The answer might be somewhere in the middle.

Over the past year, software for team collaboration has grabbed plenty of headlines in the unified communications and collaboration space. These apps enable distributed workgroups to communicate, share information and create a workplace hub that becomes the center of their projects.

Most organizations have seen these apps enter their domain virally, often by software developers who felt team collaboration products offered better tools than email or other enterprise-provided services. From the development community, software for team collaboration spread into IT groups and even into lines of business through apps like Salesforce Chatter. The cloud-based, freemium nature of software for team collaboration makes it easy for teams to download the tools and use them, often outside of IT's control. 

Thanks to the convergence of team collaboration and unified communications (UC) by vendors such as Avaya, Cisco and Microsoft, IT leaders are now looking at team collaboration software as a core component of their overall workplace collaboration strategy.

The latest UC and collaboration study from Nemertes Research found nearly 30% of companies are using team collaboration software, while another 32% plan to do so by the end of 2019. Just 20% of companies have no plans to evaluate or deploy team collaboration apps over that time frame.

Of the companies currently using team collaboration software, the study revealed the following:

  • Thirty-five percent have a single, enterprise-wide deployment of a single app that all employees must use.
  • Twenty-six percent have multiple, supported, enterprise-wide apps and do not allow lines of business to use their own apps.
  • Nineteen percent do not have an enterprise-wide app, but teams deploy their own apps outside of IT control.
  • Twenty percent have an enterprise-wide app, but allow lines of business to use their own apps if they want.

These data points present a dilemma: What's the right approach? And can IT mandate a one-size-fits-all approach?

IT taking the reins

Forcing users to adopt a single corporate standard could result in reduced productivity and increased conflict.

Over time, most organizations will likely migrate to the enterprise-wide approach. In those setups, organizations could mandate that workers use only the provided app or enable Lines of business to use alternative apps if they can show just cause. IT leaders have indicated they want a single, dominant app to integrate with other collaboration applications and security and governance controls.

However, sales teams, application development groups and human resources may already have workflows integrated into existing software for team collaboration. Or, these lines of business may get app capabilities from other software vendors, such as Quip integrated into Salesforce. 

Forcing users to adopt a single corporate standard could result in reduced productivity, increased conflict and headaches that IT would prefer to avoid. So, is the one-size-fits-all model the best, or should enterprises support a variety of team collaboration apps? 

The short answer is it depends. For companies in early stages of deployment -- or with compliance and governance needs that dictate a single, enterprise-wide strategy -- then the one-app-for-all approach may be your only option. But if you can support the flexibility required by individual workgroups, then having an enterprise-wide standard app with the ability for teams to use software that best integrates with their workflows is an attractive alternative.

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