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All Roads Lead to Team Collaboration -- You Ready?

As recently as three years ago, when disparately located business users talked about collaborating with each other, they likely would have meant Web conferencing, or maybe even audio conferencing. While conferencing of all sorts certainly hasn’t disappeared, it’s fading as the go-to reference point for collaboration. In its place? Team collaboration, a la applications like Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, among others.


As Diane Myers, longtime VoIP and UC analyst with IHS Markit, told me in our latest No Jitter On Air episode, “Collaboration can mean many things to different people, … but today it really has coalesced around team collaboration.” And she explained why the shift is happening so quickly: because team collaboration is what vendors have put their tool and interface efforts behind, and these applications are becoming the entry point for employees who need to collaborate with others inside and outside the company.


As a baseline, most current-generation team collaboration tools offer one-to-one and group messaging, persistent spaces for team activities, document sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing, voice --within the app if not across the PSTN -- and integrations with third-party apps like document repositories or CRM systems, Myer said. “And if you’re looking at a solution that doesn’t have one of those baselines, then you probably should be looking further because you’re going to find enough other options that have them all,” she added.


With such richness a necessity out of the gate, team collaboration vendors seek to differentiate themselves based on their traditional areas of expertise. Myers gave a few quick examples: Cisco, with its UC heritage and strength in Web and video conferencing, has integrated Webex Teams into Webex Meetings. Microsoft, the king of enterprise office productivity, has made Teams a central component of Office 365 and easily accessible via Outlook. RingCentral, with its “as-a-service” perspective, is making team collaboration part of the overall communications workstream. And Slack, as a pure-play, launched with the desire to enable team collaboration within persistent rooms and provide all the tools that teams can use to boost productivity.


In order to know which type of team collaboration tool is right for your organization, “you really need to map out what you’re ultimately going for and, because team collaboration is becoming so central to so many other pieces, you need to decide what those other pieces look like,” Myers said. If your users have lots of meetings, Webex Teams, with its Web conferencing hook, might be your best choice. But if you’re looking for a PBX replacement, then a UCaaS suite with team collaboration, such as RingCentral offers, could be the optimal choice. And so on.


And, if you just need a standalone app by itself, you have those options to consider, as well, with Slack being the poster child. However, Myers noted, most team collaboration apps today are “integrated in and coupled with other pieces.”


That’s a talking point Myers will pick up on later this month in her Enterprise Connect session, “How Team Collaboration Is Fueling Convergence.” The session, which is one of five in the Team Collaboration Tools & Workspaces track, will take place on day two of Enterprise Connect -- Tuesday, March 19 -- at 8:00 a.m. in Osceola B. Join her for an update on what’s happening with team collaboration, and the changes it’s bringing to the UC landscape.


And, in the meantime, tune in to our No Jitter On Air podcast for her advice and perspective on the role artificial intelligence will play in team collaboration, the importance of scrutinizing security capabilities, and understanding the pricing nuances of these solutions. Click on the player below to begin listening now!

Still not registered for Enterprise Connect? No worries! Register today, and you can save $200 off the price of admittance by using the code NJPOSTS.