Software for better collaboration seems to be the need of most companies these days — big or small.
2 major megatrends are driving this:
- First, millennials are expected to make up 75% of all employees by 2030 as reported by Wired . This is a generation which has grown up with apps and mobile devices. Corporations need to transform their communications and collaboration portfolios to allow their employees to be most effective and efficient.
- The second megatrend is the growth of mobility. Mobility experts state that the global mobile workforce will reach 1.87 billion people — 42.5% of the total global workforce — in 2022. These millennial mobile workers will expect the ability to work anywhere, anytime and preferably with their own primary mobile device. Smaller, Wearable, Portable will all come into play.
And to address that need, it seems like there are a slew of enterprise collaboration tools on mobile platforms under development or launched by start-ups over the last few years.
They essentially combine project management, team communication (email, chat), workflow management, analytics and reporting, etc., all in a single application that can be deployed on a mobile device as well as the desktop.
They essentially leverage similar technological advances/trends:
- Cloud: workload is moving to the cloud everywhere you look.
- API-led integrations: which drive seamless interoperability between many different tools.
- BYOD/BYOS: As people use their own devices for work, they would like to use their own software, too.
I was exposed to three a couple of years ago:
Wooqer, TeamToq and Asana.
Here's how each one was pitching themselves:
Wooqer: It's a mobile and web application that simplifies the way you work. It's an easier way to communicate, share files, and get work done. All with analytics so you know where to focus, and security, so you have one less thing to worry about.
TeamToq: Enterprise class application enabling secure, collaborative and device agnostic conversations between people, enterprise apps and enterprise cloud apps.
Asana: With tasks, projects, conversations and dashboards, Asana enables teams to move work from start to finish.
These to me appeared suitable for small and medium businesses or start-ups looking for a collaboration platform. They could also work very well for community organizations (clubs, church groups, etc.).
For established and big corporations, however, there would be the challenge of connecting with other established platforms within the organization: email, project management, etc. It's simply not realistic to expect an entire corporation to move all capabilities to a new platform just because it's more mobile-friendly.
It also creates yet another application silo to manage, too. Also, many of the existing enterprise players (Microsoft, et al) are linking up their offerings in this space, making them more interconnected and mobile-friendly. For instance, I can receive Microsoft Skype for Business messages on my laptop, as well as mobile device — they show up on my Yammer feed, too.
Slack too seems to have picked up lot of the slack (pun intended) from other competitors' offerings by becoming the place "where work happens." That's as it attempts to keep people from flocking to Flock.
If you want a fairly substantive breakdown of the tools available in this space, "28 best enterprise collaboration tools to improve teamwork" does a great job detailing the feature sets of the apps available today.
But niche opportunities for these products may exist for work-groups within large corporations, structured around a niche capability of the product. For example, TeamToq talks about a capability of allowing IoT devices to interact with mobile devices. This could be leveraged to enable it to become a collaboration cum project tool for a focused team — say, facilities engineers. They can get notifications/updates from installed equipment and then quickly set up a project team, and collaborate and monitor progress all via their mobile device in case of an equipment breakdown.
As mobile devices become the fulcrum of connectivity and collaboration in organizations — especially with the growing number of millennials in the workplace — the action in this space should heat up even more...for start-ups as well as established players.
The next big disruptor in this space is AI. All players are working towards making business communications more 3C:
Lots of what collaboration hinges on — managing tasks and schedules, prioritizing activities, automating workflows, etc. — can easily be augmented by AI.
The fun is only beginning. MarketsandMarkets estimates that the enterprise collaboration market could grow to become a $49.5 billion market in 2021 from ~$26.7 billion in 2016. The research firm also expects the cloud collaboration market to rise at a CAGR of 12.7% from $23.4 billion in 2016 to $42.6 billion in 2021.
So, hang on tight and keep collaborating!