Battle of the collaboration clients

King Kong vs. Godzilla – until now, I hadn’t realized what important basic truths of IT this B-movie classic conveys in the battle of clients in areas of my professional life such as collaboration.

We all know that the business world is mobile and agile. Or at least, that’s what we’ve heard at one time or other. But what does this mean in practical terms? Take me, for example. In my job, I drive a great deal on Germany’s highways and during this time I take part to varying degrees in a variety of conference calls. Recently, however, the following happened: “What? Why aren’t you in the web conference?” “I’m driving – got to think about traffic safety and so on …” “Yes, but in that case we might as well stop right now. How are we supposed to discuss the proposal if you can’t see it? …” A web conference it is, then. I pulled up at the next roadside parking space, quickly installed the Skype for Business client on my tablet and took part in the web conference. A sigh of relief all round. No need to reschedule, no follow-up work. Check.

Agile working – and once again another client

That’s what you call agile working – no doubt about it. Yet during this agile working, I’ve quickly added the fifth collaboration client on my tablet/smartphone. Five clients! I may be one of the privileged ones – one of those who deal with telecommunication and collaboration solutions as part of their job. Depending on who I’m working with at that moment and how the work is being carried out, I need another client – Jabber, Teams (Cisco), Circuit (Unify), Skype for Business (Microsoft), nfon …

In my experience, only a tiny number of users view having one and the same function from multiple applications as a privilege – and I’m not one of them either. However, an estimated 98.3 percent of my colleagues and other people I know like this situation about as much as a stuck SHIFT key or pollen in spring if they suffer from hay fever. So much for user experience …

Best of breed = hybrid

Stand-alone suites are naturally a great solution for integrated systems. But … our business collaboration world is multifaceted. We use best-of-breed solutions and work across company boundaries. And the standard at my company by no means has to apply to my external partners. Or, to coin a phrase, if there’s to be a standard, then it’s mine – says King Kong (Cisco?) to Godzilla (Microsoft?) 😉. The reality is a hybrid – in many different ways.
Hybrid doesn’t just mean that we link different sourcing models such as on-premises solutions to the cloud – it also means we collectively use different data formats and create our best-of-breed world using an extensive range of collaboration applications from various manufacturers. (However, this may only be a “multi-collaboration world” with applications that exist alongside each other – based on the multi-cloud.)

APIs as a solution?

Welcome to the wonderful world of digitalization … The route from the valley of disillusionment is paved with APIs. The various preferred clients in each case can only be integrated painlessly by using standardized interfaces that are continuously supported by the manufacturers. Users get what they need, and collaboration is largely seamless – in other words, a good user experience. But what this means for maintaining collaboration applications behind the scenes is something we’ll look at another time.

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