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How to Evaluate Visual Collaboration Platforms Based on Use Case

Organizations evaluating visual collaboration platforms should focus on how well the application integrates with existing workflows and applications.

As part of an organization’s digital transformation initiative, finding the right visual collaboration platform will come down to picking the solution that not only fits an organization’s workstyle and culture, but also fits the applications and data an organization needs to make decision and innovate. We’ve already established how to put together an evaluation team. Now let’s focus on what to look for in terms of product capabilities to make sure whatever you purchase is a fit for your environment.

Visual collaboration solutions can differ greatly based on their use case and the metaphor they use to facilitate sharing and working on ideas, data and content. A given metaphor--such as a canvas, workspace or just other visual manipulation of information--will likely come down to personal preferences. However, how these metaphors or capabilities work with applications and use cases will dictate how effectively teams can use the tools.

Organizations need to focus on if, and how, the platform uses integration with existing content and collaboration or line-of-business applications to boost productivity. With that said, organizations shouldn’t discount systems that lack integration with third-party tools if the use case warrants it. If a particular solution meets a focused need without integrating with other applications or has significant ease of use advantages that make up for a lack of integration with other collaboration tools, it may be the best solution.

While it may seem counter-intuitive that a visual collaboration platform integrates with other external collaboration tools, typically organizations will be working with remote users, teams and external partners. Meeting effectiveness will be boosted if companies have a means to seamlessly share information with people who may not be in the main huddle room, via videoconferencing or screen sharing services, such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams.

Many of these solutions support integration with third-party content or file sharing solutions, such as Box, Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365. For common content creation and review use cases, integration with these services makes it easier to ensure that everyone works from the same files within an established workflow. 

For more specific line-of-business use cases, organizations should look for connections with the enterprise applications that drive the use cases. These integrations can streamline workflows and make it easier to enter critical information into an application. For example, solutions from Nureva and Miro integrate with Atlassian’s Jira. For IT organizations, this integration simplifies the capture of details in a visual collaboration metaphor such as sticky notes, which can then be pased directly to Jira.

At a more basic level, a team of business analysts may benefit from a solution that can connect directly to a set of dashboards and data analysis tools. A sales organization may benefit from having a tool that directly integrates with its CRM application to assign tasks and work on presentations and proposals.

Of course, many organizations will want to connect to applications that aren’t supported through a direct integration. In such cases, look for solutions that have a published API. This will help organizations connect to a range of applications, including content management systems and CRM applications.

Finally, some of these solutions may rely more on internal rather than external tools, with support for content management, screen sharing, task management and workflows that fit a given use case. ReviewSudio, for example, focuses on creative professionals that need to review, edit and approve creative and digital content. While it has an API and integrates with external content repositories, in includes its own task management and workflow embedded in the application.  


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