Get started Bring yourself up to speed with our introductory content.

What are challenges of using multiple team collaboration apps?

Companies are already using a variety of collaboration platforms. But managing them isn't easy. What should companies know when juggling multiple team collaboration apps?

Overseeing multiple collaboration apps can pose a variety of challenges. This is an important topic, because most enterprises use more than one collaboration platform -- often spanning both team collaboration and unified communications, or UC. Things become even more complicated when collaborating with external parties, as they may well be using different platforms from yours.

To a large extent, juggling multiple team collaboration apps is unavoidable. So many applications are now cloud-based, and their user-centric nature means it's easy for individuals or teams to access the platform that best suits their needs without involving IT. As a result, it's not realistic for IT to impose a single platform for all forms of collaboration. Instead, the focus should be on finding the best way to manage key challenges. At a high level, it may be best to consider the concerns of two groups: IT and end users.

So many applications are now cloud-based, and their user-centric nature means it's easy for individuals or teams to access the platform that best suits their needs without involving IT.

IT challenges

Clearly, supporting multiple platforms places more demands on IT, especially when end users do their own thing and start using consumer-grade offerings. These apps may not integrate well with other platforms, will be short on features and could pose new security risks. While they could be convenient for end users, they can be problematic for IT, and this activity should be discouraged as much as possible.

Regardless of which platform is used for collaboration, supporting multiple platforms requires IT to manage more moving parts to ensure they all work together. Basic oversight -- among them password management, usage policies, administrative control and industry compliance -- will fall to IT, so more resources could be needed. Licensing costs are another consideration, because there are no economies of scale when supporting multiple platforms. This could make the investment in collaboration more costly than it needs to be.

End-user challenges

How employees interact with multiple team collaboration apps presents a different set of challenges, as each platform will have a distinct UX. Some workers will collaborate best with video, while others will prefer mobile settings. Advanced users will seek customization to make their UX more personal. It's not likely all these needs can be addressed with one platform, so collaboration could become a messy process where a lot of effort is needed to bridge these silos. That's a critical consideration as it undermines the platforms' core benefit of making employees more productive.

A related issue revolves around having a consistent UX, which also contributes to productivity. Basic features such as chat, calendar integration or managing meetings will differ across platforms, as will characteristics like mobile support or the platform's ability to support browser-based applications. If telephony is a key channel for collaboration, native public switched telephone network (PTSN) support is necessary and that's not a given across all platforms.

A consistent UX is central to the UC value proposition, so the more platforms and applications being used, the more difficult it will be to achieve seamless collaboration across the board. IT decision-makers must be prepared to manage mixed environments, using tutorials and other training methods to teach users how to work across multiple platforms.

Dig Deeper on Collaborative Applications