Microsoft: A Leader in Enterprise Collaboration

Microsoft: A Leader in Enterprise Collaboration

In a previous blog post, workplace collaboration was identified as one of the key pillars of successful digital transformation.

In a fast moving business environment characterised by turbulent digital change and digital disruption, leveraging the full potential of emerging technologies for supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing, internally and externally with business partners, has become critical to sustained growth and competitiveness.

Enterprise collaboration helps to break down organisational siloes leading to seamless interactions across departments. This, in turn, should improve the overall customer experience, establishing a strong foundation for building customer loyalty, retention and growth.

The need for new, more collaborative work methods has been strongly expressed by McKinsey in a series of articles on Next Generation Operating Models for the Digital World.

According to the authors, organisations need to transform the way they work in two main areas:

  • First, a shift from running uncoordinated efforts within siloes to launching an integrated operational improvement program organised around external customer journeys and internal processes.
  • Second, a shift from using individual technologies, operations capabilities and approaches in a piecemeal manner inside siloes to applying them to journeys in the right combination and sequence to achieve maximum impact.

Choice of Software is Critical

Choosing the right enterprise collaboration tool, or combination of tools, is critical in supporting the move towards next generation operating models. Choice is difficult, however, because the market is highly fragmented and rapidly changing. Fortunately, research undertaken by Forrester earlier this year provides a detailed overview of the market, comparing how different providers stack up – see Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaboration, Q4 2016.

Nine leading vendors were evaluated benchmarked against 34 criteria based on current offering, strategy and market presence.

As shown in Figure 1 below, Microsoft emerged as the overall market leader based on the broad portfolio of collaboration tools available within Office 365.

Microsoft’s position is that different groups of employees will have different collaboration needs. Therefore, a one size fits all approach will not work. There is no single collaboration app that can meet all of today’s employee needs. Office 365 is designed to give teams a choice of collaboration tool based on the specific needs of different employee groups.

To quote from the report:

Microsoft bets on employee choice and portfolio breadth.

Microsoft’s strategy starts with this premise: No single collaboration app can meet all of today’s employee needs. This has led it to offer a loosely coupled set of collaboration tools. For example, heavy Outlook users in teams of less than 100 will use groups in Outlook; document-centric collaboration remains in SharePoint team sites; Yammer suits relatively unstructured enterprise wide communication; while real-time communication takes place in Skype for Business.

Yammer is a core component of the Office 365 suite and the choice for connecting across organizations and for broad enterprise collaboration functions, but collaboration will increasingly take place in applications integrated with Office 365 Groups, with conversations, files, calendars, and notes as basic functions.

Office 365 Groups sit at the center of Microsoft’s vision: Group members become objects in Azure Active Directory, where administration and connectors to other services are strongest.

Microsoft excelled across all the categories we evaluated except templates, communities, and application integration. Near-term investments will aid further integration with Office 365.

Since publication of this report earlier this year, the general availability of Microsoft Teams can only serve to strengthen the company’s leadership position in the Forrester Wave - see Transforming Work with Microsoft Teams (Video)

FIGURE 1: Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaboration, Q4 ’16

FIGURE 1: Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaboration, Q4 ’16