Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | March 08, 2018 |


Is Multi-Vendor Team Collaboration Feasible?

Is Multi-Vendor Team Collaboration Feasible? Team collaboration tools are great, but proliferation is a problem.

Team collaboration tools are great, but proliferation is a problem.

Over the past two years, there's been no hotter trend in enterprise communications than team collaboration.

Once primarily a messaging niche served by a few start-ups, team collaboration has exploded -- both in the number of products and their functionality. In addition to messaging, most of these tools have file and screen sharing, voice calling, and video conferencing, among other features. In fact, for many workers, the team collaboration tool can replace the phone system.

I love these tools. Their organizational structure makes more sense than e-mail, they make an easy task of finding information after the fact, and working with them is generally much more logical than it is with other tools. But proliferation has become a problem -- there are now too many vendors.

Off the top of my head, vendors offering team collaboration tools include Slack, Atlassian, Mitel, RingCentral, Facebook, Unify, Cisco, Avaya Zang, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, 8x8, Symphony, Microsoft, and every service provider using the BroadSoft (now Cisco) cloud platform. I'm sure I've missed a few, but forgive me... as I said, proliferation is a problem, and keeping track is difficult.

Viral Headache
This poses some big IT challenges, as the adoption of team collaboration has been primarily viral, with various business units purchasing their own tools or using free versions. This might be sufficient for workers like software developers who only interact within their departments, but imagine someone like an account manager who needs to keep in touch with several groups. It's possible that person would have disparate tools to interface with other account managers, inside sales, field service, accounting, or other groups, respectively. One quick glance at my iPhone and I found five different team collaboration tools, which certainly isn't optimal.

In this case, team collaboration would create significantly more work than using "old school" tools, like email. For example, consider an account manager who uses one team collaboration tool to engage with other members of the customer team, another to collaborate with the accounting department, and a third when working with field service. The account manager might request the initial contract for a customer from within the first team collaboration workspace. He'd then need to download the document to read and edit before sharing it with accounting in the second team collaboration app for adjustments. Once the contract is revised, the account manager must then jump into the third team collaboration app to share the document with field service so it can complete the contracted work. Keeping track of all these versions, in separate applications, creates a massive headache. In this case, it would be much easier to revert to email as the user would not need to keep switching among team collaboration applications.

Double Whammy
Beyond the volume of available tools, another challenge is making apples-to-apples comparisons. So many tools are at different points in their evolutions. Some offer great video, but do all job functions require this? Security is tricky as well. Most vendors claim to offer security, but some only encrypt the transmission of data and not the file storage. Integration with third-party tools tends to vary greatly from vendor to vendor. This could be a deal breaker for many companies.

In addition, there's no easy way to measure the return on investment of one versus another. I know many vendors point to a reduction in email, which is great, but that's normally offset by an increase in team collaboration messages. Some users (including many within the vendors that sell this stuff) sometimes send team collaboration messages and emails, as they want to use the new tool but aren't 100% sure the people they interact with are checking it as often as they should.

Now that the technology has matured and is available from your favorite UC or UCaaS provider as well as pure-plays, IT leaders must work with their line-of-business counterparts to answer the following critical questions:

  • What are the advantages in allowing the use of multiple team collaboration apps?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • Is interoperability realistic, and, if so, what's the roadmap?
  • Should I be looking for common functions across the different tools?
  • How do I measure the effectiveness of one tool versus another so I can make an educated decision on which tools to use?
  • What level of security do I require?
  • With which third-party applications do I need to interoperate?
  • What kind of reporting tools are available?
  • How do I migrate users from one tool to another?

If these questions and others bug you as much as they do me, please join me at Enterprise Connect for the following informative panel "Managing Team Collaboration in a Multi-App Environment," on Wednesday, March 14, at 4:00 to 4:45 p.m. I'll be raising these and other issues with my panelists: Andrei Soroker, director of product strategy, 8x8; Dan Stevensen, principal GPM, Microsoft; Jamshid Rezaei, CIO, Mitel; Jonathan Christensen, chief product officer, Symphony; and Joe Berger, practice director, Collaboration Practice, World Wide Technology.

See you there!

Learn more about Team Collaboration at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rateor get a free Expo Plus pass.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
Zeus Kerravala on Google+


September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice depl

August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
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 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.