The form factor of communication in the enterprise is changing due to the rapid adoption of chat-influenced conversational tools such as HipChat, Slack, Flowdock, Gitter, and others. While these have until recently been marketed toward developers — and one of their common features is loose integration with developer tools like GitHub, Zendesk, and Heroku — the general model is applicable in other functional areas.
There are several drivers for the adoption of chat-influenced conversational tools and their replacement of less-conversational communication tools. They are better suited to increasingly mobile, smaller-scale social groups that intercommunicate frequently and in which the context for discussions are narrower.
This rise of these contextual-conversation tools will affect the enterprise-collaboration space in a number of ways, including:
- Networks of smaller groups are the most natural, effective form factor for work communication and collaboration. Contextual-conversation tools support this better and layer onto other applications in a less intrusive way than email or broadcast communication tools. This will hasten the decline of traditional collaboration tools.
- Apple’s latest iOS features fully support and open up this style of communication for developers. Similarly, Google is working with companies like Zoho, Smartsheet, and Zendesk to integrate Google Hangouts inside of those applications.
- Organizations must avoid being caught up in the decline. They must evaluate how contextual conversations fit with existing tools and processes sooner rather than later. Integration with file-sync-and-share services is critical.
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