Selling Team Collaboration

In the latest episode of Comms Business Live David Dungay was joined by Zubair Usman, Collaboration Solutions Architect from Cisco, Adam Clyne, CEO of Coolr, Mark Phelps, Collaboration Product Manager at Node4 and Ian Rowan, UK Channel Manager at Wildix. The subject… discovering the latest in Team Collaboration!

David Dungay: What are you seeing in the Team Collaboration space right now?

Adam Clyne, CEO of Coolr: Workplace is still relatively new in the marketplace, it’s probably only eighteen months old. We are seeing an increasing amount of collaboration and it is higher on the agenda for organisations. I think it is no longer just an IT question but a C-suite question on how do you get businesses to come closer together. What we see is that organisations have become larger in recent years, some up to thousands of employees, at a board level they are looking to bring people closer together and removing the friction from the employee experience and opening up the avenues for conversation. We often hear from customers, ‘if this part of the company knew about this then we would have been able to do something’. Collaboration tools are bringing this to life and increasing the speed at which people are coming together.

Ian Rowan, UK Channel Manager at Wildix: This isn’t just a millennial tool, do you remember the phrase silver surfers? When was the last time you heard that? The adoption of the internet is now across everybody and not just exclusively the younger generations. It’s the same with smart technologies, my parents have got iPhones, they interact with me via WhatsApp and social media now. The adoption of all these technologies are across all ages and not just young people.

David Dungay: Are consumer tools like WhatsApp getting in the way for businesses?

Adam Clyne: I call it the WhatsApp time bomb for large organisations. The experience on WhatsApp is fantastic, there is nothing that gets near that but it happens too organically within organisations and there is no control. What we see time and time again when we go in and do deployments is there are WhatsApp groups everywhere within these organisations, the company don’t own the data and no one manages the groups. We see there are active groups within businesses where commercially sensitive information is being shared but there are people within the group that are no longer employees because it’s not being driven by HR. I think there will be a huge wave of issues and it will be a domino effect once one large organisation is hit.
Zubair Usman, Collaboration Solutions Architect from Cisco: If you are just going to replicate the consumer tools then people are just going to use it for that. Then the questions is why would they move? You have to give a reason for the end user to choose the enterprise tools, and they aren’t going to choose it because it is IT mandated. The way you get staff to choose your tool is to offer them something above and beyond what they can get in a consumer tool. It has to be valuable to them.

Mark Phelps, Collaboration Product Manager at Node4: There is a lot of research being done on the usage of collaboration tools. An enterprise has an average of 37 collaborative tools, 86% of those are not IT supported. That’s driven by two things, firstly it’s about the features of availability and the user experience. I want that WhatsApp experience so I’m going to use it. The second thing says that part of the reason people use those tools is they don’t get trained on the tools that are there. It’s about the adoption of those tools, 67% don’t get any training on IT tools and 71% of the users use fewer than half of the features of the tools. Now that the enterprise tools are there, if we can drive adoptions and education we could maybe turn that tide on the consumer tools.

David Dungay: What about the Channel, is Team Collaboration a natural sell?

Ian Rowan: It’s an easy sell if your product is right. If it’s a complicated product then it is going to be hard to achieve. If it’s just open up a web browser and away you go then what could be more simple and sexy than that? It’s much harder for a company that doesn’t have a massive brand because you get lazy IT people that will just buy a Cisco because it’s more recognisable. For us, it can be harder to get people to talk to us but then it is the product that really sells it and I believe we have something really compelling.

Mark Phelps: It’s about who you speak to and the message you take. If you go in with ‘we have a sexy new phone system for you’ then you won’t get anywhere. You have got to look for the right opportunities which might be a transformational project. Look at things like consolidation, acquisition, new ways of working etc. Any of those transformational type projects are the time to jump in. Partners must get their messaging right, this is about moving the organisation away from the old monolithic type ways of working years ago to a more agile environment. Any company that isn’t agile today is at risk.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine