Engineer’s Corner – Collaboration
More and more, competitive technologies are grappling for space on user’s devices and timeshare of their individual and collaborative workdays. With each offering bringing a similar but still unique blend of services and capabilities, it can be difficult to determine which solution will best suit your employees’ and customers’ needs. While we would all love having that one, go-to application that can do everything we want—at the level each of our users needs it to be—most times, it’s not realistic to find a one size fits all.
One of the issues is that each competing company and its applications bring to the table a core set of functions they do tremendously well and a number of functions they do pretty well. With our customers, the first step I usually go through is identifying user and feature needs within the organization to help identify which core set is best suited to their needs. Next, is to look at what additional needs or wants can or cannot be serviced by this offering. This would give a quick reference for a “Best Case” scenario. The next step is more logistical: what entitlements does the company already have (or could have) access to with a low cost of entry? Where do these two or more options stand next to one another in regards to the core capabilities that the environment needs? We have seen scenarios where companies either generalize or compartmentalize the environment; this typically results in multiple solutions and offerings running throughout the company.
Those first two steps of identifying what offering fits best is crucial for creating the company standard for collaboration, as the next consideration is how to make these separate offerings work together. This may seem pretty simple from a high-level view of collaboration tools you know work together but, typically, each tool develops so rapidly that companies need to be able to provide services and QA to their own products without worrying about another company’s software. A huge differentiator is an offering’s openness and willingness to provide interoperability to address another tool’s needs. Now there are services where this is the main function: make one service talk with another service for chat, file-share, meeting, calling, video, you name it. All these factors need to be evaluated and leveraged, not just the “Cost of Entry” for a particular solution. The deployment, training, and adoption of these technologies—and how they will work together from the end-user experience to drive increased productivity—are typically what most decision-makers will see as the true “Measure of Success.” Making the right choices early on in the selection of the core application and interoperability can make an impactful, long-term difference in the end-user experience and systems administration, as well as reduce “Total Cost of Ownership.”
–Zachary James, Collaboration Solutions Architect