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4 Steps to Modern Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Collaboration | Posted on September 9, 2019 by Greg Treanor

Want your business to stay competitive? Change the way you do business.

That’s how it often feels in the ever-changing landscape of internet and cloud-based technologies. A business can struggle to stay afloat as it attempts to cope with this dynamic of constant change. Modern collaboration – how a good portion of business gets done today – truly represents this change and can create a great deal of disruption to any business.

With the following S.A.G.E. (Secure, Adopt, Govern, Educate) advice, however, you’ll be able to quiet the storms of change in modern collaboration and turn disruption into opportunity.

Secure

When there are more mobile devices than people on the planet, securing devices, data and applications becomes a key concern for any business. This means your end users are accessing data from myriad devices, in unpredictable locations, from a diverse set of applications. Oh, it gets better. The incidence of cyber-attacks targeting smartphone grows 50% year-over-year.

More than ever, it’s critical to have a sound security foundation for collaboration platforms. This foundation should account for device hygiene and management, application management, data access management and – perhaps most important – identity and access management. These are the four pillars in building a strong security foundation for your business.

Adopt

Even the best security foundation can crumble when people – one of the most important assets of any business – are forgotten. Adoption and change management are buzzwords today – and this is for good reason. Deploying a best-of-breed collaboration platform could be a terrible experience for end users if the organizations fail to consider:

  • How the tool improves the end-user experience
  • How it affects the way end users work
  • How the tool will make life easier for end users

Seventy-one percent of workers say they use less than the features in any given collaboration solution according to a recent Collaboration Study conducted by Softchoice. Poor adoption of new technology and services drives up Shadow IT.

A Snow Software survey earlier in 2019 found that 81% of millennial employees admit to installing unapproved software on their devices. Most respondents attributed this to seeing IT either as a blocker or as a difficult group to approach about alternative software solutions. This occurs because IT often views technology solutions as challenges to overcome, rather than end-user experiences to create. That’s why many businesses have a multitude of collaboration solutions in use. Drive down Shadow IT by driving up adoption of corporate-sponsored Modern Collaboration services and thereby build on the organization’s existing security foundation.

Govern

Treat end users like your customers. Provide structure to this relationship and set proper expectations just as you would with your typical customers. It’s okay to provide guidance and boundaries for your staff, especially when 72% of employees will be remote by 2020. These boundaries and expectations not only support end users, but also IT and those responsible for your modern collaboration platform.

Governing this environment involves:

  • Naming Conventions – managing names for groups and teams on the platform to facilitate end-user engagement through standard nomenclature, prefixes and suffixes while blocking inappropriate, confusing or unhelpful names
  • Guest Access – deciding whether and how to allow external access to your collaboration platform by limiting or tiering permissions to trusted people or organizations
  • Data Protection – ensuring sensitive data is protected and accessible only to trusted individuals, assigning view or edit access on a case-by-case basis and adding extra protection for data available to external parties
  • Lifecycle Management – maintaining the relevance and integrity of groups by archiving or removing stale or outdated groups before they get too long in the virtual tooth

Governance doesn’t need to be overbearing and limiting. Boundaries define expectations and lay out the best ways to use a modern collaboration platform so that all can benefit without worrying about leaking sensitive information.

Educate

Businesses today have up to five generations of workers among their ranks. Terms that start with “modern” like modern collaboration can be a challenge for these organizations and their staff. How to educate end users about what “modern collaboration” means to the business and how to best use the platform is often the hardest piece of advice to tackle.

Exacerbating this challenge is the inherent, purpose-built strength of the cloud. Remember how we started this discussion, the “ever-changing landscape of internet and cloud-based technologies”? The modern collaboration platform you choose today will have different features and capabilities in three weeks, six months, and twelve months down the road. Continuous, routine end-user education on these platform enhancements is required to reinforce security, adoption and governance.

Taking our S.A.G.E Advice

Does your business need a modern collaboration platform to stay competitive? Sure. Does it mean you need to change the way you do business? Absolutely not! Change is coming. Remember our S.A.G.E. advice to create a winning strategy for modern collaboration:

  • Security foundation;
  • Adoption focused on end users;
  • Governance management, and
  • Education on a continuing basis.

Still not sure how to get started? Softchoice helps businesses across North America through a combination of services aimed at modern collaboration. Getting started is as easy as taking our Productivity Readiness Assessment to establish a strategy and roadmap to improve end-user productivity. Our Teams Accelerator helps to implement that strategy. Our ongoing Managed Collaboration Services help you maintain governance and enhance usage of the platform.

Don’t miss the other articles in our Collaboration series on how you can get the best value out of Microsoft Teams:

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