This article was originally posted on ComputerWorld.

One of the more prominent IT trends resulting from the pandemic and shift to a work-from-home model is a dramatic rise in the use of collaboration tools such as videoconferencing systems.

A June 2020 report from research firm Gartner said global spending on cloud-based web conferencing products will grow 24% to $4.1 billion this year, with workplace restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic expanding the user base throughout 2020.

The greater use of these systems is a positive development from a worker connectivity and productivity standpoint. Remote employees can easily stay in touch and share content with co-workers, customers, business partners, and others. Where it gets to be problematic, however, is when companies lose control over the number and types of applications and platforms in use within the organization.

Proliferation of tools brings risks and inefficiencies

Most of these offerings are cloud-based and therefore easy to deploy. Virtually any department, group, or even individual can download an online meeting application and start using it, without IT executives or business managers knowing it.

tony mcqueen carousel industries

Tony McQueen, Vice President, Unified Communications and Collaboration, NWN Carousel

Even companies that had already set plans and policies for what videoconferencing and collaboration platforms employees should use might have suddenly found people using other tools and platforms. “I definitely see a lot of multivendor use in organizations today,” says Rich Costello, a senior research analyst at IDC. “Business end users are naturally very consumer-oriented and prefer to leverage the collaboration tools and apps that are intuitive, easy to use, and provide a better user experience. That goes for the workplace as well.”

NWN Carousel, an IT and cloud services provider, sees a lot of its clients running two or three collaboration systems, says Tony McQueen, Vice President, Unified Communications and Collaboration.

“Some organizations may have two conference rooms side by side and have completely different technologies” in place for online conferencing, McQueen says. “The inherent challenge is that all these solutions have their own security methods, reporting tools, and steps to troubleshoot. This makes it very challenging for organizations to gain a ‘single pane of glass’ to determine how their solutions are really being leveraged and if they are truly recognizing a return on investment.”

Read the full article on ComputerWorld.