The frontier of collaborative opportunity

h2index has just completed a research study into IT collaboration and strategy for a global manufacturing company with 50,000 employees in 80 countries worldwide. Our client wanted to test its collaboration strategy against the broader market. h2index interviewed a representative sample of multinationals from a range of industries to understand and study how they approached the topic.

The findings echo earlier work: implementing unified communications (UC) is now a high priority for most companies. This represents a significant shift in IT thinking. Only three years ago, few people were discussing UC; in five years’ time, we believe it will be established and mainstream.

Right now, there is frontier feel as companies work to find the best way for them to exploit the opportunities raised by the new technologies.

Every company is different, using a different combination of tools in different ways. But some commonalities emerge: the demand for UC is business driven and, once users experience the new services, demand tends increases rapidly and adoption “goes viral”.

Currently Lync has the market momentum as the core platform specifically because of its good user experience and because it is proving significantly cheaper than the alternatives.

We found three findings thought provoking:

  • Federation emerges as a good indicator of collaborative maturity
  • We observed marked differences in companies’ response to security and compliance challenges
  • The market lacks a global managed service provider

Federation as an indicator of collaborative maturity

Federation allows Lync users in one company to work with Lync users in another company as though they are in a single organisation. The number of federations a company has, and the processes used to manage them, are indicators of collaborative maturity. Respondents were in three groups:

  • Immature: a handful of federations and an ad-hoc process for setting them up
  • Maturing: tens of federations
  • Mature: many hundreds of federations combined with a formal process

We are aware of companies outside this study that have established more than a thousand federations. Organisations are likely to follow these leaders as inter-organisational ways of working become the norm.

Companies’ response to security and compliance challenges

Two different positions on security and compliance issues appeared. In some companies the UC adoption process takes place quickly and smoothly with security and compliance offices helping IT to find solutions or agree to accept risks. In others companies the debate is more difficult, takes longer, requires more resources, and delays the company’s exploitation of UC.

Which camp does your company fall into?

Lack of global managed service providers

The provider market for broad scope UC services is immature. Each potential provider approaches this market from an established heritage, such as telephony or email, and needs to develop and demonstrate its credentials outside that heritage. Although there is demand for a single provider to deliver UC services on a global basis, we see customers adopting a fragmented sourcing landscape which reflects their perception of the providers’ limited capabilities.

In summarising the outcome from this work Simon Bennett, partner, h2index observed: “Overall, some companies only consider their internal clients whereas the most advanced see unified communications as a route to seamless global teams and efficient partnerships across organisational boundaries.”

If you’d like to know more about implementing unified communications, please contact us.