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Collaboration Ecosystem 

It’s easy to get lost in all of the communication tool overlap around the office. With different tools being deployed by different departments with different needs, collaborating within the workplace is like trying to communicate in an office where every single person speaks a different language. For IT departments in particular, the list of tools to manage and solutions to keep up with just gets longer and more complicated as end users go rogue and search for their own ad-hoc meeting tools. What they often end up dealing with is a chaotic mess of overlapping communication tools and a list of subscription and licensing fees to pay for, and trust us — that’s a situation we don’t wish on anyone.

In this guide, we provide a few steps you can take to remedy the complications and confusion that comes with too many overlapping collaboration tools and transform your collaboration ecosystem into a carefully constructed, cost-saving and resource-saving masterpiece.

What Is a Collaboration Ecosystem?

A collaboration ecosystem is the set of tools and services a company uses to keep employees connected. Building a truly connected workplace requires the right mix of collaboration tools and culture. Your collaboration ecosystem should be carefully interconnected, absent of overlap and reliable enough to keep the world turning. It should be consistent across users — a calm amidst the technological turbulence. It should ensure that internal and external communication are of high quality, time efficient and cost efficient. And above all else, it should enable collaboration as effortlessly as possible and without getting in the way of the conversation.

In a recent survey we ran with Spiceworks, we found that 68% of the 410 IT decision-makers who participated cited collaboration as a high priority in their offices. Not surprising, right? Constant collaboration and communication is what keeps our business world turning, especially when that world is becoming more and more remote and technologically savvy.

How Much Overlap Is Too Much?

The IT department plays a crucial role in an organization’s communication abilities. With the rise of the remote workforce defining how businesses function, there’s an even greater need for collaboration in the modern office, and teams are going to start looking for tools that get the job done, with or without IT support. According to our survey, 56% of IT decision makers don’t know the actual monthly cost for their conferencing and collaboration subscriptions and licenses, and the average large business is stuck juggling approximately four solutions across three different providers. Not only is that three solutions and two providers too many, the risk of unmanaged deployments only grows larger the longer you wait to put together a collaboration strategy that avoids overlap and eliminates excess costs.

And we’re only talking about the solutions that IT actually knows about. In our guide The IT Manager who Shattered Shadow IT, we actually found that the average large enterprise uses around 1,220 individual cloud services. Going around IT and deploying tools that they haven’t approved just bypasses the critical management, integration, and security and compliance-related safeguards that they’ve established for the business. By simplifying to an all-in-one solution, not only do you cut costs, you can also prevent building a completely ad-hoc collaboration ecosystem from the ground up.

Simplification Success Stories

Company 1: Too Many Audio-Only Subscriptions to Count
One customer came to us from an environment with a very segmented user base stuck on legacy communication tools. They were audio-only focused, with all single-purpose solutions and no video- or cloud-based technology in sight. While this organization requested to just rip the Band-Aid off and completely transform their communication solution overnight, it would have completely blindsided their audio-only users, who weren’t ready for newer technology.

By deploying Lifesize, not only did we replace their minute-based audio-only solutions, we upgraded their collaboration ecosystem to include audio, web and video conferencing in addition to chat in a single tool that made adoption easy. No more dealing with several solutions, no more training session hassles, no more getting lost trying to learn multiple new technologies at once.

Company 2: Chaos Fueled by Complexity
We received an interesting support call one day from a customer complaining that Lifesize was too complex for their office. What we found was that they were actually deploying so many different tools beside Lifesize that each conference room had a completely unique set of usage instructions. No one wanted to take the time to learn and remember how to work with each system, and it got so bad that an IT member had to sit in each room and work the solution for them!

The first thing we recommended to this organization was to do an in-depth, IT-driven inventory process of all their software and eliminate all their excess tools. By implementing Lifesize, this company was able to unify and simplify collaboration in the workplace and save themselves from paying way too many licensing and hardware costs. Just by picking and sticking to a single collaboration solution, they made adoption, training and management a breeze.

How to Build an IT-Driven Collaboration Ecosystem

Change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to technology. The process of transforming your current communication tool set into an efficient and simplified collaboration ecosystem can definitely seem intimidating. Luckily, we have a few steps you can take when you’re ready to leap in and start building a better communication solution for your company because, like most things in life, it’s all about taking one step at a time to achieve your goals.

1. Take inventory of your current collaboration technologies and how often they’re being used
Members of your organization are most likely using applications and tools that you don’t know about. Taking inventory and identifying what you are already utilizing is the most critical step in figuring out what tools you need. A lot of this work can get a little tedious. But by creating an open dialogue and getting a conversation started with other departments using ad-hoc tools, you can become a partner and trusted advisor instead of a bad cop and a babysitter.

2. Identify the tools you simply don’t need
After identifying all the different tools that each department of your organization deploys, figure out what is actually being used and what’s just collecting dust. By taking the time to evaluate your current apps, thingamajigs and doohickeys, identifying what end users are looking for and getting rid of old solutions that cost too much or that employees don’t even use anymore, you can simplify your collaboration and communication needs.

3. Consolidate where possible
After identifying and evaluating the tools your organization needs and doesn’t need, it’s likely that you’re going to find feature overlap. The best thing to do in this situation is to reduce the number of vendors and find a single solution that consolidates all the features you need. Smoothly integrating and condensing your services not only cuts costs, it also makes it easier to control and deploy across all departments of your organization.

4. Gather key stakeholders in each department to drive adoption of new tools
Of course, in order to smoothly and successfully consolidate your technology solutions, you also have to get your end users, department leaders and everyone else in the organization on board. Find a key partner in each department who can help drive adoption and get their colleagues on board. That way, you can generate excitement about adoption while reducing any hiccups and surprises that would push users away.

Save Money, Save Time, Save Your Company, Save the World

Be the IT hero who took charge and deployed an efficient collaboration ecosystem at your company. By taking inventory, cutting out old and unnecessary tools and replacing them with a complete collaboration solution from Lifesize, you can save on costs, time and stress for you, your team and your company.

Lifesize is built with IT in mind. Not only do we have more than a decade of experience designing and developing HD cameras and touchscreen conference phones, we also have features like a shared directory and Skype for Business integrations that make meeting and collaborating easy. By combining audio, video and web conferencing, chat and the ability to stream and record, Lifesize is the one solution you need to reach maximum collaboration productivity. Check out the interactive product demo and download a free 14-day trial to see Lifesize in action.