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Avoiding Organizational Collaboration Tool Overload

Over the years, the role of the IT team has continued to expand, in part, thanks to digital transformation. From security and compliance to productivity and workforce effectiveness, this transformation has pushed the role of IT to encompass more new responsibilities than ever before. With employees pushing their own BYOD agendas and IT teams constantly being pressured to stay at the edge of the technology cliff, it's easy to understand how some organizations may be experiencing collaboration tool overload.

More than 80% percent of respondents to a survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan division Stratecast confessed to using non-approved software-as-a-service (Saas) applications in the workplace. This means a growing number of employees are communicating and collaborating across multiple, non-secure devices and applications in addition to company-provided software.

Supporting and deploying the right mix of technology while upholding strict security measures makes for a daunting IT task. Ensuring that all solutions and vendors have the right organizational, scalable, and strategic fit for end users and the enterprise is critical.

Software vendors promise to enable employee productivity and support business growth. And employees and teams can easily be drawn to over-hyped vendors and applications that promise the world, but may not deliver the best outcomes for their businesses. Before your organization gets caught in collaboration tool overload, consider these steps to maintaining control of the IT agenda.

    Stay informed

    As an IT professional, you're likely passionate about new technology, so this step may come naturally to you. However, staying informed about new technologies isn't always as simple as glancing over your favorite tech blog or discussion board once every few weeks. To truly understand why people are asking for a new tool or before pulling the trigger on replacing legacy technology, you need to stay educated on how the latest technology can help various lines of business.

    Understand employee needs

    Understanding the employee pain points is a crucial factor in determining exactly how technologies can be strategically beneficial to the organization. It's important to know if there are unique use cases for different departments, and to understand how implementation of new technology may be beneficial for one team and have no direct impact on another. Each organization, department, and team member has a unique collaborator profile and understanding your collaboration mix is critical to ensuring your teams aren't being overloaded with tools that aren't necessary, relevant, or efficiency drivers for your organization.

    Prioritize what's important

    In spite of the advances in communication technologies -- face-to-face video, instant messaging, mobile applications and more -- the cornerstone of collaboration -- the conference call -- can be easy to forget. Conference calling has long been an integral part of the corporate world. Rapidly changing technology is providing us with newer, more efficient ways to collaborate yet the conference call continues to be a mainstay. Prioritizing quality audio solutions is a necessity as poor audio can ruin any important meeting. Poor audio quality hinders our ability to communicate effectively, forcing meeting participants to struggle and strain to understand their co-workers, deal with distracting background noises, and even put up with constant interruptions thanks to delays and difficulty determining who is speaking. Audio often remains a bit of an afterthought in light of the innovative promises of other communications software, but it remains a crucial part of how work gets done.

    Ensure they integrate

    In order to avoid needlessly overcomplicating your employees' lives, you must consider collaboration tools that seamlessly fit into what we like to call a user's "inertia." In other words, how does a tool integrate into existing tools and workflows? If your new messaging solution and existing Web and video solutions don't integrate nicely together or force users to navigate multiple interfaces and tools to get a conference together, you've done a poor job optimizing your unified communications strategy. Any audio conferencing solution you consider for your organization should offer seamless integration paths for your existing communications.

Whether it's a brand new tool surfacing to market or a free app that all your employees seem to be downloading and using on their work devices, there's never a magical cure-all when it comes to your UC strategy. Businesses must think of how the technology works within the context of their own people and processes. By putting IT at the forefront of these conversations, companies shift from thinking of IT as the service provider of days past to an empowered team that is making the right choices for the business and its employees.