The new digital divide: How competing collaboration platforms are slowing innovation

Team collaboration is often based on different platforms, which makes it hard to build a strong knowledge base for everyone in the company. Read on to get more information on breaking this cycle.

Behind every great innovation is a great team. But bringing these teams together can be challenging. With today’s globally distributed workforces, businesses often struggle to successfully manage projects that span multiple organizational units, geographies and time zones.

In place of teamwork, they find silos across the enterprise. People who communicate in email and private chats, instead of openly sharing information with the rest of the team. Documents that are stored in complicated file structures on internal servers or, worse, in private cloud accounts. In short, they grapple with all kinds of inefficiencies that result from people working as individuals, not team members.

It’s no wonder that businesses everywhere are racing to deploy new collaboration tools. According to Research and Markets, the enterprise collaboration market is expected to grow from USD 26.68 Billion in 2016 to USD 49.51 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.2%.

Enterprise collaboration platforms are transforming the way teams work—whether they’re in the same room or on opposite sides of the planet—by getting ideas out of desk drawers and hard drives and into the cloud where the entire team can work on them.

The Mixed Blessing of Mixed Platforms

If you’re researching enterprise collaboration platforms, one of the first questions you’ll ask is “Confluence or SharePoint?” They’re both great platforms, and you’ll find no shortage of advocates on either side.

Confluence is a powerfully simple and cost-effective solution for teams who want to develop their own wikis. Offering an intuitive user interface, superior wiki management capabilities, and a vast ecosystem of apps and macros, Confluence makes it easy for teams to set up and manage spaces for creating, sharing, and collaborating on projects and ideas.

SharePoint’s real strength is as a document management system, providing organizations with a fast, secure way to organize and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Like Confluence, it also offers wiki management functionality, but SharePoint requires substantially more administrative overhead to plan, build and maintain a wiki.

Given the relatively low cost and simplicity of Confluence, it’s not unusual for individual teams within an organization to deploy it on their own to manage their projects and “tribal knowledge.” It’s particularly popular with software teams who are already using Atlassian’s Jira software development tool to manage their workflows. According to Atlassian, more than half of Fortune 100 companies use Confluence today.

Yet, many of those same companies have also adopted SharePoint for its document management capabilities. According to the Radicati Group, 80% of the Fortune 100 use SharePoint. And this is where things get complicated. Corporate IT organizations find themselves having to manage two competing systems that are not designed to work together.

The Widening Digital Divide

On their own, Confluence and SharePoint are great collaboration platforms. But when used together, they can result in a sprawling chasm between teams.

Software development teams, for example, frequently live in Confluence, using it to manage everything from documentation to project schedules. Yet, many of the teams they work with, such as sales and marketing, live in SharePoint.

This situation can lead to all kinds of headaches and inefficiencies for everyone involved. Sales people don’t know where to go for the latest product information. Project managers have to spend an enormous amount of time managing people and information across systems. And teamwork suffers from miscommunication, inefficient practices like emailing documents, and problems with version control and out-of-date information. This is not the way collaboration is meant to work.

Closing the Digital Divide

Heads of IT are under increasing pressure to close this digital divide. Teams on both sides of the divide want a solution for breaking down the silos and enabling true collaboration. Meanwhile, IT departments struggle to justify paying for two different systems that, to a CFO, appear to do the same thing.

In an ideal world, IT managers would shut down one system and push all users to the remaining system. But we don’t live in an ideal world. And the reality is that even though tools exist to migrate data from Confluence to SharePoint, and vice versa, there are a lot of risks to this approach.

Let’s face it. No migration is without its headaches. There are very few IT managers who want to take on the responsibility of ensuring that hundreds or thousands of pages of data are correctly migrated to the new system. And even if, by some miracle, they pull off a perfect migration, they know that they’ll face an even more impossible task: bringing their users over to the new platform.

Getting users to adopt new software is hard enough when there’s no point of comparison. But if those users have spent years using a different system only to have “corporate” take it away from them, you can rest assured that you’ll be met by a tsunami of change-resistance.

Bringing Your Confluence and SharePoint Teams Together

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Instead of making the difficult choice between Confluence and SharePoint, you can integrate them using an app like SharePoint Online Connector for Confluence (a Server version is also available). With this app, your teams can work as one, sharing and collaborating on content using whichever system they prefer.

You get the best of both worlds with the SharePoint Online Connector. Teams can continue to use Confluence’s free-form, easy-to-edit wiki to manage information and share knowledge, yet they also get access to the powerful document management and workflow capabilities of SharePoint Online.

Using this app, teams are easily able to embed SharePoint document libraries, calendars, links, discussions and more directly into Confluence wiki pages. Microsoft Office documents can be edited directly from Confluence, and all changes are saved directly back to SharePoint. This eliminates all the back and forth of email—and the associated problems with version control and out-of-date documents.

Confluence teams aren’t the only ones who benefit. With this new integration, SharePoint users are now able to embed Confluence wiki pages, blog posts and blog lists directly into SharePoint. So everyone is on the same page.

Ready to Bring Your Teams Together?

The SharePoint Online Connector for Confluence is one of the best investments you can make in your collaboration systems. Watch our free webinar recording to learn how it can help you close the digital divide in your organization and empower your teams to work as one.

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[…] (like Confluence and SharePoint) and are reluctant to learn new software. This can result in a digital divide, reinforcing organizational silos. Information and documents are hidden behind platform walls, and […]

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