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Top Three Trends in the Team Collaboration Market for 2020 and Beyond

In this note, I reveal the top three trends in the team collaboration market for 2020 and beyond, as predicted by top analysts in this field.

List of trends

The current state of the team collaboration marketplace is dynamic, proliferated with a wide range of solutions from various vendors – from the suite giants of Microsoft and Google to best-of-breed apps like Slack and Zoom.

As such, it can be difficult for newcomers to navigate this market – let alone predict what trends will shape this market over the coming years!

Fear not: Here are the top three trends in the team collaboration market for 2020 and beyond, as predicted by top analysts in this field.

Source: SoftwareReviews Team Collaboration Data Quadrant. Accessed December 18, 2019

1. Team collaboration solutions will move to align with business outcomes

Ensuring efficient collaboration goes beyond a solution that merely enables that experience – it involves gathering and analyzing data to ensure such experiences are optimized. This is why we “will see a continuation of enhanced analytics,” says Russ Newton, Collaboration Specialist at Genesis Integration Inc.

Kevin Kieller, co-founder of enableUC, agrees. Indeed, Kieller adds that this shift in measuring business efficiency “favors Microsoft with its complete solution offering and Office Graph integrated metrics.” This is bad news for Slack and Cisco: “While Slack and Cisco can rail against email, mostly because they don’t have an email platform, Microsoft uniquely has instrumented and can extract actionable insights from a broader spectrum of employee interaction.” This will become the key differentiator likely to drive class-leading licensing and adoption.

Interlinked with this trend is also the value offered by the Internet of Things. Chris Palermo, Global Collaboration Sales GTM at Cisco, states that while it is useful for people to collaborate with people, “it becomes that much more valuable when people can collaborate with data, with content, with applications. The use cases that get unlocked when you collaborate and interact with data from various ‘things’ are limitless.” So much so, that Palermo predicts that this “will redefine every aspect of how we work,” as each aspect of our collaborative lives is analyzed to be optimized.

2. The market will become more interoperable and begin maturing

A recurring problem in the team collaboration solutions market is that end users often have to keep switching between an average of four applications a day. This lowers end-user satisfaction and ultimately productivity. Likely driven by this end-user demand for a more unified collaboration platform, Microsoft has announced greater interoperability with Cisco and Zoom for 2020.

It is likely this trend won’t stop there. Anthony Cosentino, Google Collaboration Specialist at Cogeco Cable, states that he “can see the collaboration SaaS [Service as a Software] ecosystem expanding to include more third-party application integration.” This will make it easier to collaborate with different applications from one main collaboration suite.

However, such integration may mean the writing on the wall for many of team collaboration vendors, especially best-ofbreed apps who will be subsumed by the larger industry giants. Kevin Kieller forecasts that “Slack will be acquired in the next three years (perhaps by Cisco?),” while Rohan Singh, Collaboration and Networking Manager at Pathway Vet Alliance, believes Cisco will suffer against Google and Microsoft – two companies that can go end-to-end with product offerings in this market, of which Cisco is unable.

Though this market will begin maturing, this isn’t to say all best-of-breed apps will slowly disappear. It is likely that some apps who are ubiquitous in a particular collaborative space and integrate into as many suites as possible will retain their identity. Tom Hibbs, Account Executive for Healthcare in Canada, believes Zoom to be one such solution: “Zoom is the partnering tool for everyone with video conferencing,” and well-known enough to be a main stayer in the market.

Source: SoftwareReviews Team Collaboration Emotional Footprint. Accessed December 18, 2019

3. Disruptive technologies will infiltrate the team collaboration market

Often seen as the domain of science fiction, artificial technologies (AI) and machine learning (ML) are no longer future capabilities. These disruptive technologies are fast becoming available, simulating human text and voice alongside the ability to search and retrieve relevant data. Such technologies readily integrate with collaboration tools and, as Chris Palermo comments, “collaboration apps must have AI and ML woven in or they will be left behind. They will continue to help replace more and more tasks that were previously done by humans, resulting in increased productivity.” End users will no longer need to do repetitive tasks and instead will be able to focus on high-value work.

Palermo continues that the future of team collaboration is likely to incorporate other disruptive technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This is to say that collaboration solutions would move toward virtual collaboration experiences, beyond physical or remote call-in interactions: “AR and VR are providing new and innovative ways to interact and collaboration virtually, which make the virtual collaboration experience more immersive and more valuable than the in-person experience.” For example, envision putting on your AR headset in a meeting room and seeing your colleague or customer sitting in the chair next to you – even though they are hundreds of miles away. Physical and virtual realities will blend, enabling collaboration in all sorts of environments.

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