It’s time to ask ‘What can collaboration technology do for me?’

As the market for real-time communication and collaboration services emerged more than a decade ago, there was a heavy focus placed on the technology that powered each platform. Everyone was always talking about what this vendor was doing or what that vendor was up to.

But that’s all changing, according to David Mario Smith, research director at Aragorn Research.

The shift, Smith says, is one towards end users asking themselves what precisely collaboration can do for them. For example, how can a salesperson increase his or her efficiency with collaboration? Or how can a marketing staffer use collaboration to streamline his or her day-to-day?

Instead of simply being wowed by the latest technologies, Smith says, folks are starting to think about the actual business outcomes that collaboration technologies can achieve.

And guess what: end users simply aren’t waiting for business managers or IT leaders to decide which collaboration technologies can best meet their needs. With a growing number of agile and intuitive collaboration tools now widely available, employees in 2018 are choosing to use platforms that work for them. Either free to use or very cheap, workstream collaboration tools (“WSCs”) like Slack and Microsoft Teams have seen a swelling rise in popularity in the modern workforce.

What all of these new WSCs have in common is the fact that end users can deploy them without approval or support by their firm’s IT department. Before WSCs’ widespread availability, end users were almost wholly reliant on IT managers with respect to which tools could be used for intra-company collaboration. Now, end users are bypassing decision-makers and using tools like Slack whether their managers like it or not.

What does this mean for employees? Most importantly, it means that technology is becoming easier than ever to use and employees feel empowered to find the platforms that help them the most. The new reality is that employees are more free than ever to decide which technology reallyworks for them.

So, what does this mean for managers? Simply put, it means a complete fragmentation of a company’s internal communication federation. This fragmentation means that clusters of employees may use Slack, others may use Atlassian, and others yet may use one of the over 100 WSC platforms available in the market today. This “balkanization” has severe consequences for a company’s internal collaboration: since WSCs are not natively interoperable, silos are created that obstruct communication between various groups of employees.

Historically, productivity gains and other benefits that were supposed to be realized with new collaboration tools were never felt to the extent that they are now. WSCs seized upon this opportunity and created tools that employees actually wanted to use: not only because they’re more simple and accessible, but because they provide employees’ with real benefits that make their jobs easier.

What do these trends teach us? For one, they represent a stark reminder that collaboration tools need to do more than just connect people. They need to be able to change the way people work in order to be truly effective and deliver results. As an Accenture report put it, “[c]ollaboration platforms should do more than help employees talk about their work; they should create new ways for employees to do their work”.

The future of work is indeed collaborative, as Mary Ann de Lares Norris of Oblong Industries asserts. But in order to reach that future, you must question if your company’s internal collaboration regime works for you. What business leaders therefore need to recognize is that their employees are already asking — and answering — those questions themselves.

It’s clearly time for a new solution that can solve the problem posed by WSCs and, in doing so, treat it as an opportunity to introduce a real culture of collaboration. It is clear that the Slack and Microsoft Teams aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, a Gartner report found that the WSC market it set to grow at an annual rate of 100% until 2021.

So, what’s the solution? The answer is NextPlane’s ConverseCloud. What ConverseCloud provides is the ability for organizations and teams to seamlessly connect different collaboration tools to each other. The company’s software breaks down the walls that exist between legacy Unified Communications tools like Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber and others as well as newer team collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Atlassian Stride and others.

ConverseCloud allows companies, vendors, and teams to continue to use the collaboration and communication tool of their choosing, reduces the IT cost and complexity of multiple tools in one organization, and increases overall productivity. Multiple teams that were previously siloed as a result of their collaboration tool of choice can now be reunited and communicate with others as seamlessly as if they were using their own platform.

Find out more about how ConverseCloud can create a seamless communication and collaboration environment for your enterprise, your workers and your partners.

NextPlane helps companies achieve a comprehensive and open collaboration strategy. We’re a leading provider of unified collaboration and communication services, connecting over 750,000 enterprise users and 500M messages every day. Follow us on Twitter for more updates

Published 07/4/18