Collaboration has been getting complicated. On the positive side of things, the industry has been on an innovation spree. It seems that every week there is an announcement for some sort of new productivity tool or service, most of which are born in the cloud. Most of these standalone tools have intuitive features and are designed for the consumer — quick to learn and implement, and low cost. There are, of course, issues with how these standalone tools are supported, how they will integrate with your many other tools and systems. And then there are the questions about supporting yet another disparate tool. Will they meet all of the security, governance, and compliance requirements of your organization?
From the end user perspective, those concerns are not as important as the ability to get work done — and to do so with a satisfying user experience. As we’ve discussed before, the traditional intranet has failed, and one of the primary reasons why this has happened is that most IT organizations are unable to provide the features employees want in a timely manner. As a result, end users search for tools and solutions on their own. The problem with this practice is that our collaboration and communication systems and tools are getting more complex. They require manual steps to align business processes, and are more likely focused on individual and small team productivity rather than the needs of the enterprise. What organizations need to do is to simplify, automate, and optimize their collaboration activities.
Beyond the Standalone Tools
SharePoint is not new, of course, and yet one of the primary drivers of SharePoint’s success — providing a single platform for teams to collaborate and communicate — is as important now as it ever has been. Even within the SharePoint ecosystem, the primary features and capabilities we rely on — such as instant messaging, threaded discussions, file sharing, etc — have been around for a couple decades.
Information Technology seems to run in cycles, with innovation causing internal explosions as end users identify new tools and technologies, and bring them back to the enterprise. Eventually, as the enterprise experiences the pains that come with security breaches, lost data, and compliance and regulatory issues, most large enterprises retract, locking down what tools can be used, and by whom.
Companies often hold off from making any big financial decisions about technology, trying to make do with the consumer-based, stand-alone tools for as long as possible. However, what has become abundantly clear is that good collaboration is not just nice-to-have – it is now business-critical. This shoot-from-the-hip attitude toward standalone tools can have a direct impact on collaboration by creating, yet again, siloes of information. Even small to mid-sized companies can quantify the impact of knowledge and experience and intellectual property that is either hidden, or walks out the door because the company does not have the ability to adequately capture and protect their own intellectual property. Most stand-alone tools were simply not designed for the requirements of the enterprise.
Automate and Optimize the Routine
One of the goals of collaboration is to enable organizations to connect what would otherwise be independent siloes of information, and then to automate their complex business processes – all with the idea of helping employees get more done. Recognizing the shift in enterprise requirements, many companies are opening and expanding their APIs and providing frameworks for developers to extend and automate their collaboration activities. The goal is to give companies powerful tools, yes, but also flexibility in how they use that capability and data.
Microsoft is a great example of this shift toward opening their technologies to organizations, offering things like the Microsoft Bot Framework and SharePoint Framework, that allow companies to create more focused and intelligent solutions. Beezy also provides APIs to many of our features, and the data created within our solution, which runs natively as part of SharePoint and Office 365. This allows our customers to leverage all of the capabilities of the platform, but giving them flexibility and extensibility to meet their own unique business requirements.
If we have learned nothing else from two decades of working with SharePoint, it is the importance of change management — and listening to the needs of end users. Because if the end users don’t show up — the platform fails. As part of the ongoing operational management of collaboration solutions, organizations should be continually evaluating what has been deployed, and looking for ways to further automate and optimize collaboration.
How Beezy Can Help
Beezy continues the SharePoint strategy of offering one-version-of-the-truth, helping organizations reduce the many different feature and data siloes created by standalone tools. But Beezy also offers solutions above and beyond SharePoint out-of-the-box, giving end users the features they want, the flexibility they require, and an award-winning user experience — simplifying, automating and optimizing collaboration. If you have not yet seen the Beezy solution, isn’t it time you registered for a demo?