If it doesn’t help your employees do their jobs better, why use it? The question is especially pressing for companies that rely on end-to-end solutions, meaning they use a complete suite of tools from one company for all of their technology needs. 

Major companies worldwide prefer best-of-breed collaboration technologies from a variety of vendors, according to a Forrester survey commissioned by Atlassian. The survey found that, among 250 decision-makers responsible for collaboration initiatives at global companies with $500M+ in annual revenues, at least half explicitly prefer best-of-breed technologies. Less than a third of respondents said they preferred to only buy from one vendor, and the remainder said they didn’t have a preference or weren’t sure. 

It makes sense that best-of-breed came out on top; when companies choose each tool based on its efficacy, rather than trying to stick with just one vendor, they’re working from an understanding of what employees actually need to do their jobs. The alternative is imposing one vendor’s solutions on teams, which simplifies some things, like billing and tool management, but can make workers’ jobs harder. 

A best of breed strategy also helps enterprises stay competitive; they can leverage the most cutting-edge tools on the market, rather than waiting until a monolith provider offers a capability. This allows teams to respond to changes in the market in real time. They can then scale those capabilities in the cloud across their entire business as soon as they’re available, and use the most up-to-date versions of those tools without having to deal with updates or maintenance.

When employees are distributed across the globe or find themselves working from home indefinitely, collaboration technology becomes their lifeline for maintaining productivity. That’s why it’s so important to get these tools right. 

Tools with purpose

How machine learning “smarts” can accelerate teamwork

Your organization likely has at least some employees now working from home. That means no side conversations in the hallways, no quick questions to the person next to you, no looking around the room to see who’s around and who’s out to lunch. Technology has to step in to replace all these interactions – and in a way that creates a smooth experience for users.

Certain features can help ensure best experience. These include automation of routine tasks, the ability to personalize a workspace, and easy integration with other tools. Atlassian categorizes these qualities under the umbrella term “smarts.”

But when you start getting into questions like what specific tasks the tool can automate, what tools it integrates with, and whether it allows for personalization, you’re getting beyond general good qualities and venturing into the realm of best-of-breed. A best-of-breed solution is one that meets the actual needs of a particular team in the best way possible.

Different teams function in different ways. Depending on members’ skills, goals, processes, and level of technical expertise, they may prefer different tools to collaborate. Teams in marketing may feel alienated by tools built for developers. Your full-time staff may like the quickness and ease of communicating with a chat tool, while your contractors may prefer the less obtrusive option of email. 

Meeting the unique needs of your company’s varied teams can add up to a long list of tools. Our survey with Forrester found that, on average, respondents used 10 different types of collaboration tools. But while that sounds like a lot to keep track of, it ultimately helps ensure a smoother experience for employees. Using an enterprise identity provider can help integrate the user experience across these tools.

All this begs the question: How do you find the right tools? One key step is to have the right people looking for them.

Businesses with dedicated collaboration facilitation teams are capable of more advanced collaboration practices, and can therefore better navigate sudden shifts in workplace circumstances. These centralized teams help companies develop collaboration processes and choose purpose-built collaboration tools to meet employee needs. 

Leaders at organizations with more mature collaboration models were more likely to say that expanding their collaboration facilitation teams was a top priority, according to the survey. Among leaders at organizations with “intermediate” or “advanced” collaboration models, 40 percent planned to grow the teams, while only 27 percent of respondents at “beginner” firms planned to do so. 

“Mature” collaboration models refer to those with more iterative and agile processes, cultures that are more collaborative, and more customer-focused strategies. Collaboration maturity also correlated to greater use of cloud and automation tools, and use of collaboration tools with interfaces friendly to non-developer users. 

Benefits of collaboration maturity

With the right approach and the right tools, you can reach collaboration maturity. That means your company is maximizing the benefits it gets from its collaboration model and reducing friction on productivity. Decision makers at firms with advanced collaboration models were more likely to report benefits from their strategies than companies with less developed models, according to the survey. 

Roughly three-quarters of respondents from advanced organizations said they saw improvements in customer and employee experience. Meanwhile, 53 percent of beginner organizations reported customer experience improvement in connection with their collaboration model, and only 44 percent reported improvements to employee experience. 

A higher proportion of advanced organizations also reported improved products and services, improved innovation, productivity benefits, increased revenue, increased brand recognition, and reduced costs. Notably, 100 percent of advanced firms responded that they use cloud-based tools that can easily scale to help them work together more effectively.

In short, stronger collaboration correlates to making more money, spending less, and generally differentiating your company.

Firms at all levels of maturity reported using multiple best-of-breed solutions, and the report recommends prioritizing best-of-breed when investing in collaboration technology. 

“Building a high-value collaboration solution means finding tools that support collaboration and oversight of activities, automate repetitive processes, and provide transparency into work progress. This will require a best-of-breed solution,” the report states. 

To truly scale productivity and teamwork, the data shows that cloud-based, best-of-breed tools get the job done for the enterprises that do it best. 

How cloud is influencing best-of-breed tools for the enterprise