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Hybrid and remote work during the lockdowns and quarantine periods of the pandemic have led to a significant uptick in use of virtual tools to get things done, such as video conferencing through Microsoft Teams and Zoom, but how do IT professionals feel about using these apps?

New research from NetScout indicates that while Teams and Zoom may be the most widely used applications for connecting employees and sharing work, they may not be the most popular among the workforce.

The many platforms and their issues

Before COVID-19, apps like WebEx and Google Meet were obviously not as prevalent as they have been from 2020 to now. In a survey conducted of 300 IT professionals from the U.S. and Canada, an overwhelming majority (93%) said that collaboration tools were critical in completing work over the past 18 months. According to NetScout’s findings, 72% of those polled said their businesses supported anywhere from three to nine virtual collaboration tools and 20% said their companies used more than 10 of these platforms.

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This has led to an issue for many employees who feel that the number of platforms their work makes them use can feel overwhelming. While some companies have used this span of time to determine the best tools that work best for them, for reasons such as better features, employee growth and security concerns. While Teams (73%) and Zoom (72%) clocked in as the most used platforms among those surveyed, the feedback from the employees using these platforms has workers dissatisfied.

Microsoft Teams had just 67% of respondents saying they would recommend the platform for use, while Zoom was less successful at just 60% recommending the platform. Additionally, WebEx and Slack each clocked in with a lower number of recommendations and usage than Teams and Zoom. Of the five platforms noted, only Google Meet at 48% usage and 52% recommendation rate came in with a net-positive score.

“Microsoft Teams is among the most used platforms by enterprises because the service is bundled with other business-critical applications as part of Microsoft 365. So even if IT would prefer to support another platform, because the costs of Microsoft Teams are already incorporated into their existing budgets, they must demonstrate a substantial business need to switch platforms,” said Eileen Haggerty, AVP, Product & Solutions Marketing at NETSCOUT. “Zoom saw success early on in the pandemic as organizations sought solutions they could roll out quickly to maintain business continuity. Zoom was an easy choice for those looking for a no-cost option – provided their employees could keep meetings to under 45 minutes. But they haven’t always been loved by end-users and IT, with high-profile incidents prompting Zoom to roll out new features to strengthen their security posture and improve the user experience. The research indicates that IT leaders are taking stock of the investments their companies have made in these platforms. Enterprises have had close to two years to evaluate and test new platforms, which explains the growth of the platforms year over year, as well as the research’s finding that many organizations plan to consolidate platforms.”

IT problems affecting productivity

A large part of the dissatisfaction around using these virtual tools stems from the IT issues that have cropped up for the workers using them on a daily basis. As the use of these platforms ramped up during the pandemic, so did the number of IT helpdesk tickets that came from employees. Of those polled, 24% said they receive tickets multiple times per day about the platforms, while 26% said they received a ticket at least once daily. In total, half of companies receive a ticket at least once a day or more frequently. The positive aspect to these errors that have arisen is that the turnaround time on getting them fixed has not been overly long. According to those surveyed, 56% said the tickets were resolved within a few hours, and just 4% of tickets submitted took longer than a day to resolve. The problem for IT professionals has been the volume of tickets submitted, as 36% of respondents said their organization receives more than 2,500 tickets daily, while 12% said their organization receives more than 5,000 tickets on a daily basis. Thirty-one percent of those that were polled said they were concerned that these related challenges may temporarily hinder productivity within their organization.

“When users run into performance issues with these platforms that impede their ability to do their jobs effectively, it often takes some time to investigate what’s causing these challenges. NETSCOUT’s research shows that while many issues can be resolved by IT within a few minutes, perhaps by rebooting a system or reconfiguring an application setting,” Haggerty said. “Since these issues are among the most common sources of help desk tickets these days, according to the research, there’s a significant toll that IT departments face when fielding these requests.  Overall, the information provided is helpful but incomplete in resolving complex challenges. For example, Zoom may show that some packets are being lost during a call, but that information on its own may not be enough to quickly pinpoint the issue. More information is needed at the network level to understand where and why information is being lost. For that reason, it’s important that organizations invest in their own independent network monitoring solutions that can identify and resolve challenges presented in complex, multi-vendor environments.”

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Some of the major challenges that cropped up came when configuring devices (48%), sharing screens for collaborative purposes (44%), system updates and maintenance (43%), poor webcam or video quality (37%), problems with joining video or audio conferences (37%), audio quality issues (31%) and login problems (31%). An overwhelming majority of 98% said that they believe these collaborative tools are important to their organization’s hybrid work policy, so it is imperative that these bugs and errors are properly fixed.

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