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5 Barriers to Team Collaboration Success


People working together with a collaboration app
Image: Syda Productions -
Team collaboration apps are now the centerpiece of many modern unified communications and collaboration strategies. More than half of the 635 organizations that Nemertes benchmarked in 2019 had deployed team apps, either company-wide or within individual workgroups. By the end of 2021, that number will rise to almost 67%. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that we’re past the point of asking whether or not enterprises will adopt team collaboration apps, rather now the question is “how” best to deploy them in a manner that’s secure, reliable, and that allows organizations to fully realize their benefits.
In most cases, team collaboration deployments are somewhat limited. About a third of those currently using team apps only do so within company silos. Just 29% of organization benchmarked view team collaboration apps as a work-hub that integrates other communications services (e.g., calling and meetings) as well as business workflows and data streams into contextual workspaces. The rest either see team collaboration as just another messaging app (potentially, as a replacement for instant messaging) or are still trying to figure out a team collaboration utilization strategy.
Based on Nemertes research, those who adopt team collaboration company-wide, and who view it as a work-hub, are more likely to achieve positive business outcomes including increases in revenues, cost savings, and productivity, than those who don't.
However, barriers to success come in many forms. Here are the top five obstacles that I’ve seen in my research and in working with our enterprise clients on strategy:
1. Lack of a Governance Strategy
Team collaboration app use often grows virally, as employees realize the advantages of contextually persistent communications over email or legacy IM services. But this viral adoption often leads to chaos. Channels are rapidly created, often with topics that overlap existing channels. Channels aren’t managed, meaning those that are no longer needed aren’t archived. And access controls protecting channels from unauthorized or unwanted access are either not implemented or are not actively managed. Overcoming this challenge means adopting a governance strategy that guides channel creation and archiving, access control, naming conventions, and notification management. Today, about 65% of organizations rely on IT to perform these tasks. Just 16% follow the approach that correlates with success and delegate these governance tasks to workgroup owners or departments.
2. Insufficient Security Controls
Again, often due to the viral nature of adoption, few companies have adopted proactive security controls that limit what can be shared in channels, who can access channels, and management of guest access by people outside the organization. Organizations typically haven’t yet developed retention and archiving strategies to meet regulatory or business requirements, especially for those operating in multiple geographies that may have their own data retention and privacy requirements (e.g., GDPR in Europe). With 44% of companies allowing guest access into their team workspaces, there is a critical need for a security strategy that rescinds access after a period of time, that tracks guest access, or that abandons guest access altogether in exchange for managed federation between corporate team platforms.
3. Lack of Management Insight
Most team collaboration apps provide some level of adoption and utilization management and reporting, but it’s often limited to message counts or active licenses in use. IT leaders typically lack the insight on how usage changes over time, if people are shifting from still-supported legacy apps like IM to team collaboration, if email counts are dropping, and what types of collaboration are happening within team spaces. More importantly, IT leaders may lack insight into team collaboration performance and thus will not be aware of cloud service outages when they occur; this is especially important as team collaboration apps become a business-critical service. Increasingly important is the need to understand insights such as who are the critical contacts within an organization, how much time is spent using team collaboration, and how users view the team collaboration experience. Here too, a proactive management strategy can be instrumental in enabling usage insights about a team collaboration environment.
4. Lack of Company-wide Deployments
Team collaboration apps aren’t just for the back-office. Just 29% of organizations we’ve studied extend team collaboration into the contact center, enabling customer service agents to quickly and easily engage with subject matter experts throughout the organization to solve customer challenges. However, among our success group, nearly half have integrated contact centers into their team collaboration strategy. As previously noted, only about a third of those using team collaboration are doing so on a company-wide basis. Deploying only in silos means that the entire organization is unable to experience the benefits of team collaboration-based workflows. Recently, team collaboration vendors, and their partners, have begun to focus on front-line workers, typically in the field, by providing capabilities for task management, scheduling, and reporting. IT and business leaders should evaluate how these front-line capabilities can allow for more efficient field workers.
5. Lack of App Integrations
As previously noted, only about 29% of organizations view team collaboration as a work hub. More than half have only integrated three or fewer apps into their team collaboration apps (mostly calling and meeting launch, as well as CRM). Failing to integrate business apps into team collaboration means frequent context switching; workers will need to move between different screens to do their work. When properly integrated, workflows can occur within contextual workspaces, enabling real-time collaboration around tasks and business data.
Team collaboration is here to stay, and its use will only grow over time. Those who address these five obstacles are more likely to achieve measurable business success. For a further discussion on the topic, join me at Enterprise Connect on Monday, March 30 from 2:00 – 2:45 PM for “Avoiding Team Collaboration Gotchas.” EC is still open for Early Bird registration; use the code NOJITTER to save $200 off this rate.