Businesses invest considerable sums of money with vendors like Box, Cisco, Google and Microsoft for a collection a technology we call collaboration tools. As an analyst, though, the question that has dogged me in watching this space is "why?" As in "what is the actual value a business gets from investing in collaboration technology?" The vendors' rationale for acquiring collaboration tools has shifted in emphasis over time, going from a conversation on cost savings to one on productivity gains. However, cost savings is an undifferentiated and limited message while "increasing productivity" can feel ephemeral because it is difficult to measure. Yet my inquiry queue remains full of companies trying to figure out how best to deploy these technologies and my briefings calendar is filled with startups and incumbents pitching new offerings in this space. This brings me back to my original question: Why?
The business press has come alive over the past few weeks as companies as diverse as Delta, Facebook, and Tesla have publicly declared that they want to own software development for key applications. What should catch your attention about these announcements is the types of software these firms want to control. Delta is acquiring the software IP and data associated with an application that affects 180 of its customer and flight operations systems. Facebook is building proprietary software to simplify interactions between its sales teams and the advertisers posting ads on the social networking site. And Tesla has developed its own enterprise resource management (ERP) and commerce platform that links the manufacturing history of a vehicle with important sales and customer support systems. Tesla's CIO Jay Vijayan, in describing his organization's system, sums up the sentiment behind many of these business decisions: "It helps the company move really fast."
Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, is now generally available in China through a partnership with 21Vianet, China’s largest carrier-neutral Internet data center service provider. This announcement follows the recent launches of Microsoft Azure and SQL Server 2014.
Local teams ensure timely responses. 21Vianet has 300 engineers to provide hardware and software service and support for Microsoft Azure and Office 365. For emerging technologies, large Chinese organizations and government agencies like to have local engineers available to quickly solve their problems rather than using a service hotline or remote support.
Chinese customers can choose the services they want.Companies and government agencies wishing to purchase Office 365 have a range of tiered pricing options with different functionality, including only buying one Office 365 service — say, SharePoint, Exchange Online, or Lync. As Chinese organizations normally run collaboration applications on-premises, they won’t give up legacy infrastructure, preferring to test public cloud services on a small scale first. For example, TCL uses on-premises email and Office software, so it’s only buying Lync and SharePoint services to improve efficiency instead of completely migrating to a public platform.