The case for (and against) maintaining multiple collaboration tools

Choosing whether to force users onto a single collaboration platform or support multiple apps is a tricky decision for enterprise IT.

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An age-old debate in IT — whether to opt for “best-of-breed” software or settle on a universal platform — is surfacing in the world of collaboration technology.

IT professionals are predominantly inclined to favor consolidating around a single app or suite over supporting multiple tools because it’s easier to deploy, manage and ensure a secure work environment, says Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research. But there’s a strong case to be made for letting workers use the best tool for the job — and that may mean something different for a marketing team than for a group of developers.

“We have seen a noticeable shift in the last few years in terms of ownership, meaning employees are feeling more empowered and are more vocal and proactive regarding the tools they use for work,” Castañón-Martínez says. That dynamic leads some organizations to support multiple apps for the same purpose, such as allowing both Slack and Microsoft Teams for group chat. This creates overlap and extra challenges for IT.

There are genuine and consistently proven benefits for enterprises to adopt an all-in-one approach, but rigidity isn’t always the best strategy for today’s workforce. Balancing the wants of users with company-wide considerations around security, productivity, and the omnipresent need to capture and generate value from internal data requires an open mind with a touch of empathy.

Benefits of flexibility

Collaboration tools are “the coordination and the interfacing of humans, processes and data,” says Los Angeles CIO Ted Ross. His IT shop, which primarily uses G Suite, supports 41 city departments comprising about 40,000 employees.

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