SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Brian Riggs
Brian is a member of Ovum's Enterprise team, tracking emerging trends, technologies, and market dynamics in the unified communications and...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Brian Riggs | January 04, 2016 |

 
   

Confessions of a Casual Collaborator

Confessions of a Casual Collaborator As much as I do incorporate team collaboration apps into my work, the fit isn't always quite right.

As much as I do incorporate team collaboration apps into my work, the fit isn't always quite right.

Truth be told, I'm a reluctant collaborator. I prefer projects that I can start, work on, and complete pretty much on my own. It's not that I'm asocial at work, or a control freak. I've just found that coordinating too much with others can introduce complications and delays... and, of course, reaching agreement on how to approach a problem is much easier when I only need a consensus of one.

That said, I'm regularly involved in all kinds of work that requires many people's participation. And because I work in an industry that produces countless collaboration tools, I do try to incorporate them into my work as much as possible.

portable

With that little preamble, I'd like to make the following confessions:

  1. Most of my "collaboration" remains email-centric. I wanted to get that out there right away because I've written a lot about these "email killers" and how they're making us so much less dependent on email. And no doubt they have all sorts of great potential to wean us off of email, and I'm sure others using them find themselves less and less bogged down in email. But for a number of reasons, which I'll get to shortly, the vast majority of my interactions with coworkers, clients, and others are still via email.

  2. I like team collaboration apps, but at this point they're complicating rather than simplifying my messaging experience. For context, I'm talking about the apps I've been calling "team collaboration" for want of anything better. No Jitter bloggers Zeus Kerravala and Dave Michels describe them as "workstream communications and collaboration," and Cisco seems to have settled on "business messaging." Whatever you call them, they work well and are useful to folks like me whose job involves staring at a screen of some kind or another for more time than my optometrist says is healthy. I've used a number of the apps for different projects, and they do a good job at organizing messages and shared content rather than having everything dumped into my email inbox. They're also good at eliminating multiple emails with the same endless reply threads. And they can save me from hunting around for that one email with that one attachment that I need right now.

    But I'm afraid that my casual use of team collaboration apps has complicated rather than simplified my messaging experience. Instead of messages coming into just one app, I'm managing messages arriving via email, corporate IM, various team collaboration apps, various mobile messaging apps, etc. (A year ago I would have listed enterprise social too, but I've instituted a policy that for every new messaging app I start using, I stop using another. So my use of enterprise social apps has kind of fallen by the wayside.)

    My main problem with using multiple messaging apps is I can't always recall which ones have which messages and attachments in them. I mean, one, two, or six months down the line I can't always recall if some interaction I want to review took place in email, on IM, or in one of the team collaboration apps I've been using. That some team collaboration apps don't yet support a feature as straightforward as search doesn't help. So heaven forbid I have multiple collaboration sessions in multiple spaces or rooms or folders... or whatever metaphor a particular app uses. I'll never find what I'm looking for without a simple search function that's in any 20-year-old corporate email app.

  3. I usually have to use email in conjunction with team collaboration apps, not instead of them. Back when enterprise social apps were all the rage, I found that they were only useful when everyone I needed to communicate with also actively used them. But if one or two people central to my job refused to use them -- usually because they would only use email to communicate via text -- then the social app became next to useless.

    It's much the same with team collaboration apps. On more than one occasion a project group I'm part of has agreed to use a team collaboration app to share files, provide status updates, and discuss the project ... but one team member simply refuses to use it. Of course, this person is always a key member whose participation in the project is vital. And of course he or she always reverts to email. The last time this happened we wound up cutting and pasting each new post in the collaboration app into email for sending to the luddite, and then cutting and pasting the email reply into the collaboration app. It was a complete farce, and I'm hoping few others have experienced the same.

    portable
    Whether you're casual or serious about collaborating, you can learn more about team collaboration tools at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price, and add these sessions to your schedule:

    -Team Collaboration Shootout: How the New Breed of Apps Stack Up

    -Are Mobile-First Collaboration Platforms the Salvation of Mobile UC?
  4. I don't long for less email. I long for less messaging. In a recent Slack survey, respondents said using the app led to a 48.6% reduction in internal email for them. Cisco bandied about a similar figure -- 50% if I recall correctly -- at last month's Collaboration Summit. I don't use team collaboration apps enough to have experienced anything like that, but it sounds great, right? Email sucks. Who doesn't want less email?

    But when I see these kinds of stats I wonder how much of the time being saved from doing email is just being spent using team collaboration apps instead. Because in the end, I don't really need to spend less time in email per se. I need to spend less time in messaging apps of any kind -- including those that reduce my email usage. The amount of time I spend using team collaboration apps plus the time I'm still using email and IM needs to add up to a number that's sufficiently smaller than the time I previously spent just using email. Because if it doesn't, I'm not freeing up the time I need to be more productive. I've just mucking about with one type of messaging instead of another.

  5. I'm often disoriented when I first join an online meeting because it's unclear what kind of conference it will be. It's so easy to set up an online meeting that's audio only, audio and content sharing, video only, or video and content sharing. But when I'm joining a meeting someone else set up, it's often not clear to me what's going to happen when I hit that click-to-join link. I might immediately be plopped into a live audio conference, or I might be presented with dial-in instructions, sending me scrambling for a phone. My webcam might suddenly flicker on and I'm in a video session. Or it won't, and I've combed my hair and donned my Acme Home Worker's Video Conference Upper Wear for nothing. Content might be shared, or I might have to fish out documents that were or will be sent separately.

    You might say, "Just use this app or that service. It's so much better than the others and completely addresses this problem." That sounds good, but I'm rarely the master of my own conferencing experience. I have to use whatever other people choose... and however they choose to use it. As a result I'm regularly confused in the first minute or so of an online meeting as I figure out what I've gotten myself into.

  6. When it comes to video conferencing, I can take it or leave it. Don't get me wrong. Video conferencing is fantastic. I especially like video in the first few minutes of a meeting when things are more casual. As a telecommuter, being able to talk face to face with colleagues who I seldom see in person is great. But it's more of a luxury than a necessity. After we've gotten past "Hi! How are the kids? How's the weather?" and started in on the meeting itself I need to concentrate on what's being said rather than on what the person looks like while uttering the words.

  7. I don't download video client software any more. I used to have 12 -- count 'em, 12! -- distinct apps whose sole purposes were to set up video conferences. Each would try to launch at start up, run in the background, and call dibs on my A/V equipment. Each regularly nagged me for updates and periodically required me to reinstall them. And I suspect they factored into laptop performance problems I was having at the time.

    Now if my IT department hasn't installed and doesn't support the app, all of my video conferences are in the browser. While WebRTC apps aren't always as stable as the more mature, less buggy video apps that once overpopulated my PC, when they work they work well. So it's just WebRTC for me from here on out.

  8. When I'm in a video conference I probably don't see you. No offense... but see, when I'm in a particularly productive conference I'm asking questions, getting answers, and taking lots of notes. Taking notes means I've got a word processing app open. An open word processing app means I'm looking at it, not at the person speaking. Sometimes I open multiple windows, with the video conferencing app next to the one I'm using to take notes, but more often than not it's just the word processing app that's visible. So I've become adept at maintaining eye contact with the webcam while I take notes, even though I can't actually see anyone else in the conference.

That's it for my confessions. Do you have any you want to share? Add them in the comments.

Follow Brian Riggs on Twitter and Google+!
@brian_riggs
Brian Riggs on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.