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What collaboration software tools are right for my organization?

The collaboration software market has become quite crowded. UC expert Jon Arnold explains how organizations can cut through the noise and find the tools that meet their needs.

A crowded collaboration software market presents challenges for everyone, including vendors. IT decision makers need to take a breath and not get overwhelmed. Many steps are needed to find the right collaboration software tools for your organization.

Every offering promises a wide range of features to enable collaboration. The collaboration software market is crowded because anyone can provide platforms, especially for hosted offerings. As such, you should be prepared to consider collaboration software tools outside the familiar offerings, and this is where you'll have to do some homework.

But before trying to narrow down all the different collaboration software tools, the starting point needs to be internal. You need to establish clear objectives that can be addressed by collaboration software tools to ensure they have real business value. Common business objectives include supporting branch offices and home-based employees, or providing Millennials with the applications they expect to be more productive.

In many cases, associated pain points will get in the way of good collaboration, and IT needs to identify those problem areas. Prime examples include disorganized meetings, inconsistent user experiences across endpoints and network types or the increased use of third-party applications for employee collaboration.

Evaluating business objectives and pain points helps clarify your thinking and measure the value of collaboration. Making the business case internally for collaboration software tools will be more difficult than with a conventional product, such as a PBX or video system, where established metrics tend to drive the decision making. Cutting through the noise will be much easier when your business objectives are clear and the pain points are understood.

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This strategy is important for two reasons. First, unlike those conventional products, collaboration decisions need to be user-centric, not IT-centric. The direct benefits of collaboration software tools to IT are nominal. Getting management buy-in will be far easier when the benefits support business-level needs.

Second, since the collaboration software market covers so much ground, you'll have a better chance of narrowing the vendor pool by identifying your business objectives and pain points. Otherwise, vendors might shape the collaboration software tools around their strengths, which may not align with your needs.

Do you have a question for Jon Arnold or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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