Why it's time to rethink your hybrid collaboration strategy

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Over the last two years, organizations everywhere have built hybrid collaboration strategies from a variety of platforms and services in an effort to blend the most useful features. This is understandable given the rapid acceleration in the adoption of digital collaboration tools throughout 2020, which played a huge role in keeping the economy moving.

Since then, businesses have grown to rely on their collaboration capabilities as part of their ongoing approach to hybrid working. But in many cases, this has given rise to a somewhat cobbled-together approach, delivering user and customer experiences that work but aren’t entirely optimized.

Many will be familiar with issues ranging from patchy data visibility and connectivity dropouts to underdeveloped communications channels and heightened security risks. Today, however, organizations are perhaps in a better position to consider how to consolidate their disparate hybrid strategies into a single, complete collaboration solution such as those based on Microsoft Teams or Webex.

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Why Consolidate?

But what’s to be gained by going through a consolidation process? First and foremost, there’s no doubt that effective collaboration is synonymous with stronger operational agility and service delivery, offering a better way for colleagues and customers to interact.

In fact, customer service can be significantly enhanced by providing complete, real-time visibility across all collaboration tools and data sources. In this scenario, customers can get in touch whenever and however best suits them, while teams have the data and functions immediately to hand to deliver the best outcome -- whether on-site or at home.

From the user perspective, having all their collaboration tools in one intuitive environment means it takes less time switching between systems or searching for information, empowering a productive way of working that is focused on value.

Moreover, decision making is sharpened by access to fast, accurate and complete reporting across all relevant activities. Whether users are analyzing ways to improve the customer experience or focused on boosting process efficiency, a consolidated collaboration solution provides both the big picture and the nuanced details.

The benefits also extend to cost control and compliance. For instance, by minimizing the financial burden of unmonitored or separately billed tools across existing hybrid environments, it’s much easier to identify potential savings. This also helps admins to closely monitor usage costs that have the potential to escalate over time. 

And for compliance, an approach where all collaboration and communications data is generated from, stored within and processed by a consolidated and governed environment helps simplify compliance tasks while minimizing blind spots, such as the use of shadow IT.

Integrate to Collaborate

Consolidating a hybrid collaboration strategy requires more than simply switching from multi vendors and service providers to just a few or even one. Questions remain, for example, about the feasibility of focusing teams or entire organizations within a single environment.

For instance, can one solution cover all the capabilities a business requires to operate efficiently, compliantly, and competitively? What about the cost and effort required to customize environments and their apps for specific organizational objectives? Also, is it actually riskier to consolidate and will doing so create a single point of failure?

The answer to each of these questions lies in integration, where a focused approach delivers the performance and resilience teams need minus the business continuity and operational risk. To achieve that goal, organizations -- and their technology partners -- should deliver on three key integration considerations:

  1. Reduce data silos and enhance real-time, accurate and complete visibility. Data from a wide range of sources -- such as private cloud or on-premises environments -- can be integrated and shown within collaboration platforms. So, even when there are strict storage and processing requirements, business collaboration, agility and decision-making aren’t negatively impacted.
  1. Mitigate single-solution risk with robust data backups and platform redundancy. When deployed in a suitable private cloud, public cloud or colocation environments, using a consolidated platform poses no risk to data availability, sovereignty or security. In addition, an integrated solution should include backup and redundancy tailored to key operational threats and risks. 
  1. Integrate all other applications necessary for successful operations. Organizations can also benefit from integrating functions such as regulatory monitoring, payment processing and customer experience training into its collaboration solution.

Taken together, these initiatives can enable organizations to refocus their collaboration solutions to boost operational efficiency and bottom-line success. As hybrid working becomes a permanent part of many working cultures, reshaping the underlying technologies that support collaboration will be essential to future success.

Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

Richard Buxton is Collaboration Practice Director at Node4.

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