Cloud-based work management and collaboration tools are now considered a must-have for successful businesses. In a recent survey of business leaders, more than 80% say collaboration and work management tools are used across their entire business. It’s clear that business leaders have recognized the vital role that these tools can play: collaboration is an essential driver of growth, and investing in enterprise collaboration and work management tools is critical to staying competitive.
And they’re not waiting to invest in these tools. Nearly half of the survey respondents said their organization was using at least six collaboration tools, and over a sixth were using more than ten. Furthermore, 95% say that collaboration tools are a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ IT investment priority for their organization in the next 12 months.
The Challenges of Collaboration
But what’s seen by the business as a key growth accelerator is sometimes seen by workers as a nuisance. Disconnected work management tools can cause more fragmentation, making it harder for workers to find the information they need to get work done, in turn slowing down productivity, execution, and innovation.
The biggest problems with work management tools involve this disconnect between tools and between teams. Of the leaders surveyed, 32.8%report that the #1 employee complaint about these tools is that not everybody uses them; nearly 20% say employees feel they have too many or duplicate tools for the same tasks (which may explain why not everyone is using any given collaboration tool).
Another challenge facing employees: enterprise collaboration tools are not consistent across an organization. Of the IT decision makers surveyed, 83.5% reported that most of the collaboration tools in their company differ by department, and are not used across the entire organization, causing further disconnects.
Connected Tools Are Key
As employees demand more connected work systems, enterprises are demanding tools that allow their employees to work seamlessly across platforms. To succeed in this landscape, vendors must provide greater interoperability among products — even those that compete fiercely in the market. For example, Microsoft Teams added an integration with Google Drive, even though Google Drive and Office 365 are competing products. Applications that connect with other workplace technologies are essential for true enterprise collaboration.
This is reflected in the increasing demand for work management tools that integrate with other programs. For example, since Smartsheet released an integration with Microsoft Teams in March, 2017, over 1,000 organizations have adopted the integrated platform to collaborate and keep information in context.
Solving for Cross-Team Collaboration
There’s also an increasing demand for specifically solving for cross-team collaboration, and solution providers are rising to the challenge. Smartsheet’s JIRA integration, for example, lets users automatically synchronize data on IT and software development projects. Now business users have instant visibility into what IT is doing using an intuitive, business-friendly interface and IT teams can still live in JIRA. Companies like Creative Kingdoms, who use the Smartsheet for JIRA integration, get a consistent and accurate project view in Smartsheet that’s easily accessible to leadership, while keeping their software developers working in JIRA.
As software vendors move into an age of interoperability, a period of consolidation is likely as well. Signs of this include Atlassian’s acquisition of Trello and Salesforce’s acquisition of Quip. It’s likely that enterprises will increasingly choose vendors with a strong business foundation to minimize potential disruption and alleviate their security and compliance concerns.
What’s more, enterprises will choose tools that work together, seeking interoperability among products, and giving preference to solutions that “play nice” for their employees. Increasingly, IT departments will seek to connect the dots and make it easier for workers to collaborate to drive the business forward.