Woman serves a variety of round icons on a glowing tablet.

Collaboration Tools – How About a Little More?

February 14 2020Marten Bütow

Four men after sport. They’ve polished off the pizza and are sitting over the obligatory espresso. Four small cups hover over the table. Each is flanked by the unavoidable biscuit (“Prodotto originale”). Bernie: “I don’t like these biscuits.  Does anyone want it?” Tom: “There’s probably wheat flour in it. I’m allergic.” John: “I’d really rather have a tiramisu right now.” And suddenly I’m sitting there with four biscuits. A fantastic metaphor for the future workplace, or smart office, and its cost situation.

The future workplace has to serve different needs

Four men, four espressos, four different reactions to the standard package. As we can see, a one-size-fits-all solution does not mean giving the best to everyone. It’s the same thing at the workplace: it’s fairly obvious that not every employee needs Adobe Illustrator or Salesforce CRM, but when it comes to the Office 365 suite, companies usually say “let’s get the whole package.” It’s the standard, even though a large slice of employees only needs and will only use a relatively small number of the service and features – even in the future workplace.

Large standard packages generate high costs

The wealth of collaboration tools gives employees a wide range of options for all varieties of working together. But on the flip side, this means companies get more than they need. And the subscribed services generate costs, of course, whether they are used or not. The E3 license, for example, includes the full range of features in SharePoint, Teams, Office 365 Plus, and Exchange Online. In practice, all employees will really need email. But industrial workers rarely need calendars or functions to share information. 50 percent of a company’s employees normally use SharePoint, but most of them only use it for data storage, which means the old SharePoint Foundation, which can still be used, is more than enough. For the Office suite, the standard version is enough in 80 percent of all cases. As even this simple consideration shows: under the bottom line, although a package like E3 comes with a discount, it still isn’t the best solution from a financial perspective.

But smaller packages, like F1 for “firstline workers”, also have drawbacks. A major pitfall of F1 is that it only covers devices up to 10.1 inches in size. But the new iPad has a 10.2-inch display – is the improved collaboration tool user experience that comes from the larger screen worth the price of the larger license? Just something to consider.

Smart office: Do you know your users’ needs?

The question “does every employee at a future workplace need everything that packages like this contain?” can be answered quickly even by laymen: no. And this simple truth represents an important starting point for lowering expenses for Office software.

Companies should consider it, in particular, if they plan to radically overhaul their collaboration landscapes. Especially at larger companies, which have thousands of users with different requirements for biscuits – sorry, for collaboration tools. When the time comes to implement the future workplace, it will take some effort to identify user behaviors and user requirements. But that effort will pay off – continuously, in fact. A user/application evaluation can significantly improve your bottom line, because choosing the right licenses can conserve a sizable chunk of your IT budget. And by the way, license selection isn’t the only question, either – “Rent or buy?” and “What update cycles do we want?” are also relevant.

Analyzing collaboration tools and user behavior

As we see it, a classification system involving five or six user roles can provide a sturdy foundation for cost savings.  It contains mobile users, industrial employees, power users, and even users in specific countries. If you know which collaboration tools your company’s employees need, you can procure the right licenses. Companies that don’t know their employees’ precise behavior have to record it – but this can be done easily with daily monitoring scripts.  Experienced providers offer evaluations like this as part of an end-to-end package, for example, “Software Asset Management”.

Smart license selection = more in your wallet

In sum: When choosing your collaboration tool set for the future workplace, take the time and effort to examine your end users’ requirements. Why should you pay for services you don’t need? After all, when the butcher is weighing your purchase and asks the traditional “how about a little more?”, there are people who answer “No”. As for me, I’m looking forward to getting all my friends’ biscuits again next week.

About the author

Marten Bütow

Senior Solution Sales Manager, T-Systems International GmbH

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