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How should a single pane of glass for collaboration be approached?

Experts weigh in on how enterprises should go about building single-pane-of-glass platforms based on collaboration tools.

For many enterprises, offering users a central location where they can access all of their collaboration tools...

in one place could improve collaboration usage. But enterprises can't expect to deploy a single-pane-of-glass platform for collaboration before analyzing the problems they're trying to solve.

In a Frost & Sullivan webinar -- called "A Single Pane of Glass for Collaboration: Fad or Future?" -- industry professionals weighed in on why enterprises need a defined strategy in order to successfully implement a single pane of glass to unify their collaboration tools.

Enterprises must first determine the business problem they want to solve, whether it's a communication, knowledge management or a collaboration problem, said Andrew Dixon, senior vice president of marketing and operations at Igloo Software, a cloud-based intranet and social software provider.

"There are a million tools that can address those types of problems," he said. "You need to very clearly define the problem, and it will give you your start point."

Without defining the a business issue specifically, it can be difficult to understand the differences between single-pane-of-glass offerings, said Jim Moss, CEO of Plasticity Labs, a workplace engagement platform provider.

A clearly defined strategy is necessary when deploying a single pane of glass for collaboration, as well as for ensuring that existing services will successfully integrate with the platform. Issues related to the security and complexity of existing collaboration tools can negatively impact deployment if there is no strategy to address them, said Mark Dumas, product manager at Acano, a video, audio and collaboration interoperability platform provider.

To determine what business problems need to be solved with a single pane of glass, enterprises should decide if they need a vertical or horizontal offering. A vertical offering would be purpose-built to service the specific needs of a narrow set of users like a sales team. If an enterprise's needs are horizontal, an offering like a corporate intranet that can be adjusted to meet users' collaboration needs across the enterprise may be the best option, Dixon said.

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This was last published in September 2015

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What tips do you have for building a single-pane-of-glass strategy for collaboration tools?
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One of the biggest things that has helped us was ensuring that single sign on was included in the strategy from the start. This applied to accessing the tools from within the network and outside of the network, as well as across mobile devices. Requiring users to use multiple authentication platforms to access collaboration tools is almost certain to inhibit use and adoption.
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A clearly defined strategy is necessary when deploying any solution top address a business problem, that’s just common sense. The discussion deciding on whether to go for a vertical or horizontal solution is good advice, which means that companies need to think about how the solution will be used, and who will need to use it, in the long term.
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