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2018: The year interoperability became critical to collaboration

Community Insights September 26, 2018
Interoperability graphic


2018: The year interoperability became critical to collaboration

Interoperability graphic

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following publication of the original article, another significant merger has taken place in the collaboration industry. Read on to find out October’s latest addition.

Interoperability is, by definition, real-time data exchange between systems without middleware.

In collaboration IT, interoperability usually happens when competitors work together. When two competing systems work together, without regard to brand name, the end user’s outcome then becomes same. This is crucial for collaboration to enable, well, genuine collaboration. Lack of interoperability in collaborative businesses creates communication silos, friction, and often leads to what we’ve termed “shadow messaging.”

It is important to understand the difference between interoperability and integration. Bobby Roberts summed this up nicely in his blog last year. Even though the article references the healthcare industry, his thoughts are still applicable to communication & collaboration:

Interoperability isn’t integration.

From Microsoft embedding their own apps into their collaboration software, to Slack purchasing other apps to embed into theirs, the news circulating around this topic has been increasing. Below is a timeline highlighting the interoperability announcements so far this year, proving that it has become an increasing trend.

Interoperability momentum:

April 2018

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business become interoperable

As we eagerly followed the Teams roadmap, Microsoft announced these two clients can co-exist for a given user. “TeamsInteropPolicy” will be retired soon, and its functionality is being consolidated into “TeamsUpgradePolicy”. Interoperability will be managed using “coexistence mode.” Selection of the user’s mode will govern routing of incoming calls and chats.

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business are now interoperable
Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business are now interoperable

May 2018

Interoperability for Cisco Webex Teams and Jabber

Back in August 2017, Cisco announced Spark and Jabber interoperability. With the introduction of Webex Calling, following the acquisition of BroadSoft, Jabber users feared they would be left without a method of messaging their Webex Teams colleague. As outlined in a May the product update, with the Cisco Webex Teams / Jabber Interop setting enabled, you can send or receive messages between Webex Teams and Jabber apps. Jabber users can also see presence of Cisco Webex Teams users.

Cisco Webex Teams
Cisco Webex Teams

July 2018

G-Suite with Microsoft Office and Exchange

At Next 2018, Google ran sessions to demonstrate how G Suite interoperates with Microsoft tools. The session covered features like support for user and resource availability lookups between Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange, as well as real time collaboration on documents over the different platforms.

Google and Microsoft Office interoperability diagram
Google and Microsoft Office interoperability diagram

Google announces third-party conferencing native in Google Calendar

Google launched add-ons from popular conferencing facillities like Cisco Webex Teams, Arkadin, GoToMeeting, LogMeIn, Dialpad, RingCentral, Vidyo and Vonage.

Conference providers can easily build add-ons to create, view and join a video conference directly from a Calendar event. Users can simply click a link in the Calendar invite to join on web or mobile.

Google Calendar
Google Calendar

October 2018

Since this article was originally published, we’ve seen further consolidation in the collaboration market. Yet further recognition that this fragmented market needs interoperabiltiy to thrive.

Video giants, Videxio and Pexip plan to merge. Both companies are innovators in enterprise collaboration with specialist knowledge of cloud video conferencing and messaging.

Pexip partnered with Google Cloud this year to deliver interoperability to Hangouts Meet. Following their merger with Videxio, they plan to continue into the world of collaboration apps. According to CEO of Pexip, Odd Sverre Ostile, the alliance between Pexip and Videxio will open the door to a new product portfolio for the joint company. Upon the finalization of the merger, the Videxio brand will be dropped, and the combined brand will be called “Pexip.”

Pexip Videxio agree plan to merge
Pexip Videxio agree plan to merge

Interoperability is critical to collaboration

Katherine Pinnell pointed out that “A lack of interoperability among multiple team chat applications on smartphones and desktops can vex end users”. This was back in 2017. At the time of writing, it was plainly obvious that collaboration platforms were locked down and designed to keep you in one place.

Fast forward to 2018. Now interoperability is beginning to happen within collaboration. Without interoperability in collaboration, businesses won’t be able to fully leverage all the great communication platforms that exist today. Their features and functionality will simply remain in silos, or exist in a binary “select only one” environment. The likelihood that businesses go back to pick just one communication and collaboration platform seems unlikely at this point.

Interoperability across the board

All the big players are beginning to realize the need for interoperability, at some level.

In his recent blog, Jonathan Rosenberg, the former VP and CTO of collaboration at Cisco, mentioned that Cisco simply couldn’t live without Microsoft. Stating that most, if not all, customers that Cisco sells to have Microsoft products. Rosenberg believes the real question people should be asking is around “can this work together in my system?” ie – interoperability.

Slack is pushing it’s own integration agenda with their ever-growing app directory. There are over 1350 apps in the Slack app store today. This is more than any of the major messaging players, which is a big draw for enterprises. There are apps like the Cisco Webex Bot for Slack that takes steps for interoperability, but the focus is clearly on besting app integration.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is taking a more passive approach, letting everybody interoperate with them. For example, opening up APIs to let Cisco CUCM work with Skype for Business. There recognition for interoperability is clear, however, in their interoperability statement: “Interoperability allows disparate information systems from multiple vendors to readily work together and exchange data”.

“Google is continuing to improve its collaboration products, but it still needs to integrate them with Gmail better,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, “for example, users should be able to launch a chat from a Gmail thread.”

Ultimately, interoperability drives what business leaders are looking for in any purchase: higher efficiencies and lower costs. You can reap the rewards of being able to host video conferences, chat, share documents and collaborate to the nth degree across platforms with increased interoperability.

There is simply no point in purchasing new IT if you are still stuck in one silo. With Mio, your users don’t need to change chat platforms and will still be able to chat with colleagues on Microsoft Teams, Slack and Cisco Webex Teams.

Mio is simple to set up:

  • Sync all the chat apps your teams use by creating your Mio Hub (read more about channel syncing here)
  • Add all teams, spaces & channels
  • Team members in your Mio Hub can immediately chat in DMs or groups with members on other platforms
  • File sharing, threaded messages, reactions and the ability to edit and delete messages are all supported
  • New channels or spaces an employee is invited to will be synced in the primary chat platform they prefer to use.

To find out more about Mio’s chat platform interoperability, check out this demo video of cross platform messaging..

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