Rising Above the Collaboration Flood

How organizations can gain solid footing in the face of new tools, consumption models and workflows.

June 9, 2017 4 minute read

I meet with a lot of customers. They range in size, industry, revenues. Each has their own unique challenges, but one thing is always clear. They understand the value of collaborative solutions. As the “digital disruption” begins to pick up speed, businesses are realizing the benefits of an agile and nimble organization that can pivot fast and leverage the best and brightest resources to achieve the job at hand. Collaboration amongst these teams is what’s crucial to staying ahead and being competitive.

What can be difficult is navigating the sea of new tools, delivery options and multitude of OEMs that all seem to have the “next big thing.”

The good and the disruptive of collaboration as a service

We’re already seeing shifts in traditional sales models and delivery planning (cloud vs on-prem). This only stands to grow with a continued rise of communications platform as a service (CPaaS). What’s great about these as-a-service solutions is that, through APIs, they can be tailored to meet the specific needs of organizations. Plus, investments in API development can give organizations a streamlined workflow that can support their move to being a digital business.

But the introduction of collaboration APIs comes with potential disruption. APIs can create a new generation of enterprise-class communications that traditional IT may not quite be ready to support despite encouragement from lines of business. While developers and solutions architects will be eager to leverage APIs, they’ll need to make sure traditional IT can support as-a-service purchasing decisions.

The good and disruptive of team collaboration

Group chat, business messaging, work stream collaboration — no matter what you want to call it, it’s here to stay. Ask any major communications vendor and they will tell you about why their solution is the best. Slack, Cisco, Microsoft and others have jumped into the game head-first, each with its own value proposition.

The features of these tools are key to collaboration within a digital business. Group conversation, shared documents, multiple team threads and instant voice/video conferencing allows teams to communicate with each other in various ways while easily looping in outside collaborators. These tools are only getting more robust with third-party integrations and chat-bots beginning to replace the need for traditional UC tools.

These tools can help teams be more productive and agile, but they bring tremendous uncertainty into the enterprise. Because they can be purchased at the team level, many times lines of business are going around IT to procure these tools and compromising IT’s ability to control security, compliance and cost.

Collaboration is more complex and fast-changing than ever. Not only do we have a new way of consuming tools, we have the rapid development of these tools and a completely new way of working which makes it nearly impossible for IT to keep up.

How do you adopt the latest innovations in collaboration for your digital organization without disrupting your business?

Testing the waters

With the flood of enterprise collaboration tools before organizations, the only way for organizations to make the right investment is to test them out first. IT needs a place to validate whether or not different leading solutions will work in their environment regardless of delivery models. They also need to compare the ease of administering services, upgrades and tweaks in configurations.

The WWT Collaboration Labs inside our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) is a self-service, scalable environment that allows collaboration administrators to test performance, functionality, migrations and upgrades. It also demonstrates differences in end-user experience for competing tools.

The Collaboration Labs includes more than 60 solutions broken out based on what our customers care about, such as workforce productivity, customer experience, interoperability and lifecycle management.

We can spin up customer environments in the lab within seconds thanks to advanced automation. From there, customer engineers can see, for example, how Cisco Meeting Server can facilitate seamless meeting participation for clients using Skype 4 Business (cloud and on-prem), Polycom endpoints, Jabber, Webex and Cisco TelePresence.

Whatever real-world scenario our customers want to test, they can do so in the Collaboration Labs. Customers can kick the tires on the latest and greatest collaboration offerings without the traditional cost of building a lab in house. If they get their hands dirty at any time, a help desk service connects them with one of our architects to troubleshoot issues.

The Collaboration Labs gives our customers a safe place to familiarize themselves with disruptive technologies without disrupting their business.

If you’re interested in how collaboration can be a competitive edge for your digital business, connect with me.

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