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How do collaboration integration and interoperability differ?

Interoperability between collaboration platforms is scarce, but integrations are abundant. Learn why multivendor collaboration integration has more support than interoperability.

Collaboration comes in many flavors. You can collaborate using basic cloud-based file sharing, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, or using a more sophisticated multifaceted environment, like SharePoint. Most tools have multivendor collaboration integrations.

For communication systems, like voice over IP (VoIP), multivendor interoperability is assumed. After all, what good would it be to have a Cisco VoIP system that couldn't call Avaya, Mitel or other VoIP phones. Support for interoperability between collaboration platforms, however, is more complicated.

Platform interoperability lags between collaboration vendors

Collaboration with outside organizations usually involves tools such as Zoom, Cisco Webex or GoToMeeting. These tools don't offer multivendor advantages because most lack interoperability capabilities. If Zoom is your collaboration tool, then collaboration sessions will happen entirely through the Zoom client. If you deal with different collaboration environments, get used to having multiple clients installed on your devices.

No technical reason accounts for the lack of a multivendor, interoperable environment. Providing platform interoperability would add work for the vendor but would add value for users by enabling them to choose a single client. Each vendor wants to own your business, so interoperability is unlikely to happen.

Some integration and interoperability vendors, such as Zapier and Mio, offer connectivity between applications, such as Cisco Webex Teams and Zoom, for an additional cost. But adding another vendor and interface to the mix is unlikely to be an attractive option for many users.

Vendors embrace collaboration tool integrations

Multivendor collaboration integration options often exist in collaboration segments that don't directly compete. Cisco Webex, for example, provides integration with both Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint. If you ask collaboration vendors -- especially those that started out as VoIP vendors -- about multivendor support, you'll likely get a positive response.

Ample support exists for products from multiple vendors working together in noncompeting segments. This is especially true for CRM vendors and VoIP-centric vendors, such as RingCentral and 8x8 Inc. VoIP companies provide value through multivendor collaboration integrations with apps like Salesforce and Zendesk, where contacting customers is the primary function.

Virtually every collaboration vendor offers integrations with major business software vendors, including Salesforce and NetSuite. But the list of integrations can be extensive. If you need an app to work with your collaboration tool, be sure to take a good look at the integrations available. Other popular app integrations offered by collaboration vendors include Zendesk, Zoho and Teamwork.

Multivendor collaboration integration offerings are popular for contact centers but are typically paid add-ons. Overall, multivendor collaboration is most advantageous in areas that involve tasks such as CRM and call center management.

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