Over the past decade, businesses rapidly adopted mobile devices and applications to boost productivity and keep workers connected. Employees brought their own smartphones to the office and used consumer-facing apps to share information. And companies scrambled to keep up with the marketplace and equip their workers with the latest tools.
It didn’t take long for mobile environments to sprawl out of control, leading to confusion, inefficiency and security risks. In response, organizations rapidly deployed mobile management solutions, which evolved into the unified endpoint management (UEM) tools available today.
During the past year, collaboration technologies have had their own moment in the sun. In response to the new remote work needs spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations across industries have raced to roll out collaboration suites that keep their workers connected and productive from the safety of home. Largely, these tools have had their intended effect, with many businesses reporting that worker productivity has stayed level or even improved slightly. However, many organizations have found that their collaboration environments are now as rambling, disorganized and inefficient as their mobile environments were a few years ago.
Like mobile solutions, collaboration is here to stay. Organizations that bring a UEM approach to their collaboration environments are the ones that will see the greatest success with these solutions going forward.
The first step to reining in a collaboration environment is to get a solid understanding of the ways in which it is currently causing issues. Some of these problems will be easier to spot than others. For instance, if an organization has invested in three or four largely overlapping collaboration platforms, it should be a simple matter to uncover the unnecessary costs associated with this. However, it will likely to take more digging to find instances of user frustration (which itself can have a negative financial impact on a company, in addition to the obvious problem of employee dissatisfaction).
Other common problems associated with extensive collaboration environments include insufficient bandwidth at users’ homes, virtual desktop infrastructure environments that can’t stand up to the demands of collaboration tools, over-provisioning of licenses and poor rates of user adoption. Even something as simple as mismatched hardware peripherals can lead to significant issues. For instance, if employees across an organization are all using different headsets, it becomes much more difficult for an IT department to effectively troubleshoot and support users when they experience problems.
Arriving at Solutions
Organizations should try to quantify the extent of the problems caused by collaboration sprawl, using metrics such as cost or inefficiency. It’s helpful if business units are able to identify key performance indicators for their use of collaboration tools, so that the company has a benchmark by which to measure success. Then, business and IT leaders can use monitoring, analytics and reporting tools to see where they are currently falling short of their objectives.
Often, the third-party perspective of a trusted partner such as CDW is instrumental in helping organizations to better see the issues they need to tackle and craft a plan for addressing them. Solutions may include consolidation of tools (both hardware and software), network improvements or increased user training.
This process is about taking dispersed collaboration systems — including voice, chat, video and hardware — and bringing them together under a unified corporate policy and management system. Only then can business and IT leaders be confident that their collaboration tools are truly helping the organization to achieve its goals.