Agility is the new stride that organizations are adapting to the crucial discipline of collaboration. Software has transformed every business discipline, i.e., there is an analytical change in how things are done. There are more apps to help us, but our work is more high-fractioned than ever before.
In today’s ever-changing automated world, choosing a collaboration hub or suite might seem daunting, and it is perfectly alright to feel overwhelmed, given the changing dynamics and proliferation of software and other technologies involved. Unfortunately, however complicated the process might seem, it is essential for a business to invest in enterprise collaboration. According to a recent survey by Lifesize, more than 56% of IT professionals and amp; leaders are in the dark about how important collaboration is for their business!
Today the enterprise collaboration market is changing as it is more diverse, fragmented, and competitive. So the challenge remains not which solution you choose but to ask specific questions that are vital for you as an IT decision-maker to finalize on the right collaboration software. Here are some of the questions you should be asking while choosing a collaboration hub for your company:
1. What is your vision for collaboration and the real impact of improving it?
When you are asking this question, think about:
A) Collaboration hub as a transformation accelerator that can contribute to the CEO’s most essential and strategic initiatives.
B) Better collaboration can improve core processes, so collect as many cases as you can from any given department.
C) Keep in mind that with a proper hub, sales can close deals faster, marketing can run campaigns way more efficiently, and your product teams will engineer more products for market.
The above statements and questions will shape your choice of collaboration platform. If you are looking for a communication tool, then there are many simpler solutions available. But if you are looking for a centralized hub where you would bring together conversations, files, applications, knowledge sharing domain, in that case, you might want to raise the bar.
2. What are other people using right now?
It is imperative to find out how many collaboration hubs or software others are using because they might be using more than one. While asking this question, also keep in mind:
A) Why consolidate on a centralized hub?
B) Analyze the value of a centralized hub.
C) You need to invest lesser time in training people in a centralized hub.
D) Create one value store by searching for various users and workspaces, creating a knowledge asset.
Collaboration tools are one of the most common places to find ‘shadow IT.’ Teams find their solutions because existing ones (email, meetings, simple chat, etc.) aren’t doing the job. Competitive analysis is essential because you would want to know what users are doing if they want to source their tools: are they improving visibility/response time/inclusion of remote team members?
Even before you divide these into meaningful buckets as per their function, the sheer number of different tools tells you a lot and helps you size and scope your opportunity. The big win comes from rationalizing your company’s collaboration tools—not just to save money but to increase impact.
3. How many different departments should your collaboration hub support?
The more departments that use the hub, the more transformative it shall be. While asking this question, do keep in mind:
A) Cross-departmental collaboration and think about how well they work together.
B) Consider scaling your hub support among tens and thousands of users.
C) Consider adoption across all the departments and disciplines.
Directly deploying your hub to many departments isn’t enough, even if you try to restrict access to all other tools. Users have to use it—from the start and increasingly over time. When evaluating a collaboration hub, look at how it’s used today at other companies. First, look at how many different departments have chosen it. But also look at how the hub supports work across departments.
4. How will your collaboration hub work with your existing software?
Keep in mind, you cannot be adding a collaboration hub to an already underutilized tech stack. Before investing, please keep in mind:
A) Is the software investment paying off?
B) Can it be better exploited?
C) Consider in-depth integration.
D) Ask about custom integrations from your vendor.
A collaboration hub acts like a layer that floats above your existing applications. Instead of trying to code one-to-one integrations between apps, they all need to integrate with the collaboration hub, where the users are (this reduces all that wasteful context switching). To make the right choice, take a survey of the leading apps used by each department— software such as CRM, ERP, HRIS, Marketing Automation, Ticketing, etc.
5. How will you secure all your collaborative hub activities?
While asking this question, think about:
A) All data has to be secured through encryptions and other transit in an enterprise-grade capability.
B) Controlling access like sign-ins, device management, etc.
C) Invest in knowing global governance policies.
Committing to business agility means coming to grips with some traditionally risky activities, such as sharing sensitive data, looping in external partners, and taking devices outside the office. Your teams need to be able to share confidential information with authorized colleagues, but the business needs control, compliance, and auditability. It shouldn’t be a trade-off. Security can’t be an afterthought; it has to be built into every aspect of your collaboration hub.
On a final note, a centralized collaboration is a big decision that you will partake on behalf of your company, which will make a significant impact on the agility, responsiveness, alignment, and customer-centricity of the company. In a recent study by Clinked.com, a UK-based business collaboration startup said that 75% of B2B and B2C companies admit that online collaboration software tools are ‘important’ or ‘somewhat important’ to their business. Here are some questions that we hope outlined for you the big world of enterprise collaboration.