Collaboration in the new era – converging siloes for business
Business collaboration tools have quickly become essential, but the fact is that different platforms dominate in different markets. Operators need the right approach, to integrate where necessary and to add value to their existing platforms.
There is no universal collaboration tool, although Teams is becoming close
During the last few months it’s become clear that business users are eager to embrace collaboration tools. This eagerness has been shown, not by a convergence around a handful of platforms but rather by a fragmented approach. Some of our operator partners have reported using up to 14 such tools, depending on the group with which they are communicating, or the purpose of the session! That’s a complex landscape by any stretch of the imagination.
So, while we know that Microsoft Teams adoption has surged, and that Zoom has crossed business and personal boundaries, there’s also a host of other platforms that have enjoyed a boom in popularity. Not only have global platforms grown, so too have more localised solutions that are popular in a particular country. Some of these are based on operator initiatives, developing an in-house solution which is then commercialised – but with a strong local focus.
The idea then, of a universal solution seems to be of less relevance in this context. However, one thing hasn’t changed. Operators still have universal assets – the fixed and mobile phone numbers that are assigned to their customers. While many collaboration solutions use browser-based access or a dedicated client as the default interface, most also offer dial-in access so that users with a limited or no internet connection can also join sessions.
Integrating existing B2B voice solutions is necessary
This is particularly important, because so many of us continue to work remotely and do not necessarily enjoy symmetric or fibre broadband, or event optimum mobile broadband coverage. Operators can capitalise on this in different ways. Some have taken the approach of delivering enhanced QoS-based packages for specific services, but others are starting to think about integrating collaboration tools with other B2B voice communications solutions.
We’ve seen this in a number of cases. One way in which our partners have sought to offer value is via direct integration from our vPBX or mPBX solution with different collaboration tools – starting with Teams, but embracing other platforms that are popular with their customer base.
We look at this in different ways according to the needs of the operator. Adding presence and status information from across different devices benefits Teams’ groups, while enabling click to call to specific platforms benefits others. There is no single approach, but rather an optimum one for each case and each environment – due to the fact that collaboration solutions enjoy different levels of popularity and demand in different countries.
All of which means that operators need to provide different integration points depending on the needs of their customers. There’s no doubt that collaboration is a hugely important tool now, but it’s also essential to recognise that the collaboration ecosystem is highly fragmented. Operators must choose when and how to bring these together.
Integration requires a local plan
This isn’t a problem, but is instead an opportunity for operators to take steps to ensure they remain relevant, even while customers independently adopt other solutions. To achieve this, operators must ensure that they integrate with platforms when necessary, while continuing to invest in their own solutions for managing user connectivity and devices.
But, it does mean that you need to survey the landscape in your own territory. You need to understand the mix of solutions used by your customers and then determine the best approach to work around siloes – converging where necessary and integrating where it offers value to your customers. The point is that there isn’t – and won’t be – a single universal approach.
So, that’s why you need a partner that can work with complex environments and has the expertise to bring solutions together and complement and extend them to deliver the desired benefits. If you’d like to discuss your B2B suite and the evolving collaboration landscape, why not talk to Gintel, so we can help you plot the right course?