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Visions of Team Collaboration Dancing in Your Head?

Unless you're just waking up from a long winter's nap, you're well aware that team collaboration platforms are on the way to replacing UC apps as the place to launch and participate in communications and collaboration. Team collaboration has caused quite a clatter this year, and chances are you might have visions of these platforms becoming "intelligent communications hubs" dancing in your head.

The story of team collaboration is a compelling one, as we've shared here and on No Jitter throughout the year -- including just yesterday, when Irwin Lazar, VP and service director at Nemertes Research, reiterated that real-time collaboration products such as Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Glip, and Slack "represent the evolution of unified communications." Team collaboration gives a luster to workaday tasks by providing persistent workspaces for communicating and collaborating -- in any mode -- and letting users access content and other applications as needed.

It's been three-plus years since Unify introduced a new way of working, with the debut of Circuit, the first team collaboration platform from a legacy UC provider. Since that time, this technology has taken on a life of its own. As Lazar discussed in his most recent No Jitter post, team collaboration apps aren't just about persistent chat, as invaluable as that might be, and thinking of them in that vein alone is too limiting. "Indeed," he wrote, "any app that allows groups of workers to centrally converse; manage projects, tasks, and workflows; exchange documents; or collaborate around workstreams like on-boarding, sales, and customer engagement, could all carry the mantra of 'team collaboration.'"

Lazar went on to explain the importance of being able to integrate a slew of additional apps into the team collaboration workspace, to ease everything from ideation to, yes of course, virtual group meetings. Team collaboration platforms provide the "glue," but the stickiness will come when team members are able to have everything they need, including integration with workflows, to work more effectively with each other and with external parties.

What this means for enterprise IT decision makers is thinking beyond the box, so to speak, when crafting their team collaboration strategies and evaluating team collaboration products. A good starting point is a skim of the five tips for building a successful team collaboration strategy Lazar shared in an earlier No Jitter post, followed up by a deep dive at Enterprise Connect 2018, for which we've assembled a handful of sessions that just so happen to align with those tips.

In his tips piece, for example, Lazar leads with the advice to "cast a wide net" when looking at team collaboration providers. Kick off your time at EC '18, March 12-15 in Orlando, Fla., with the Monday morning general session "Is Team Collaboration the Future of Enterprise Communications?" and hear from team collaboration vendors on the role they see their tools playing within the enterprise and how they intend to get you to the real-time collaborative future they envision. Then join Diane Myers, senior research director with IHS Markit, on Monday afternoon for an unbiased market overview and key criteria to consider in your product evaluations.

Lazar also advises remembering that selecting a team collaboration product "may not be an all-or-nothing decision," and we've got that covered at EC '18 as well. In a Tuesday morning session, Art Schoeller, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, will guide attendees on how to align team messaging with broader collaboration goals, while on Wednesday afternoon Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, will lead a panel discussion on how to manage team collaboration in a multi-app environment.

And, given Lazar's advice not to ignore compliance and governance, well, he himself will be moderating a Thursday morning session on that very topic.

As I stated in my opening, team collaboration platforms are on their way to replacing UC apps as the primary user interface for communications and collaboration. But that's not going to happen with the mere wink of an eye or twist of the head. We're talking about evolutionary changes, and with the proper prep work, you'll discover you have nothing to dread.

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 Advance Rate or get afree Expo Plus pass.