Sector RoadMap: process-based collaboration in 2014

1Executive Summary

Today’s collaboration tools are cloud-based and driven by the more immediate mobile and video formats preferred by Millennials. The time for large, monolithic, enterprise-wide, expensive solutions for collaboration has passed. Modern tools do not require special staff to install, run, and maintain, and they don’t require million-dollar service fees. Today anyone with a collaborative problem can look online and try any number of more focused solutions until they find the right one. While attributing return on investment (ROI) to collaboration is more art than science, six processes common to most organizations have the most identifiable collaborative leverage. They range across functions from product development to sales, customer service, supply chain management, training, and crisis management.

With these processes as a framework, we will examine a market sector we call process-based collaboration. In our Sector RoadMapTM, we identified and assessed the relative importance of six disruption vectors that companies can ride or drive to gain revenue and market share. Tech buyers can apply the disruption vector analysis to aid in choosing products that best suit their own situation.

Key findings in our analysis include:

  • Distributed teams are becoming a work norm, and understanding the context of your team members is critical to high-functioning teams.
  •  Although mobile and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends/vectors/disruptors have been building for the last few years, these technologies are radically changing the way we communicate and ultimately changing organizational structures. Combine that with a blended workforce of Millennials and freelancers and you have a new and rapidly evolving work environment.
  • Although this report is called “process-based collaboration” (i.e., the role of collaboration in a critical business process), we are only just seeing the beginnings of process-specific collaboration. Most of the vendors in this report were happy to offer broad-based collaborative solutions and let the user figure out how to apply the technology. As applications get smarter, they also get more specific and process-oriented; “smarter” is just taking longer than I expected.

Based on this vendor research and work I do with end-user organizations, here are a few predictions I see being driven by these disruptors/vectors:

  • There will be a greater use of a blended workforce (Elance and oDesk have already merged) in an organization that looks more like a network of networks than a monolithic command-and-control organization.
  • Huge amounts of data (from sensors and the internet of things [IoT]) will have to be dealt with, and much of this big data will require collaboration to make sense of it.
  • Another outcome of the IoT will be augmented meetings (in which you have more data about who you are meeting with than you would in-person [see current tools like Refresh, Bluescape, and Oblong]).
  • The ability of distributed teams to form quickly to do a project, investigate an idea, or verify a critical number is becoming easier, and we will start to see open-source frameworks supporting “flash teams” in the near future.
  • Browsers using HTML5 and WebRTC will become more robust and become standards in the near future.
  • Because massive organizational changes are occurring, new collaborative HR practices for rapidly hiring and retaining talent will rely more on relationships in communities rather than the specific job title.

In our examination of representative suppliers and their positions vis-à-vis the disruption vectors, no one company dominated the sector the way Google dominates search. Instead there are various groupings of functionality and strategies that address sub-categories of these sectors, and even these sub-categories can have hundreds of vendors in them. Among the companies we evaluated, Clarizen and Microsoft/Yammer currently are best positioned in process collaboration. Adobe and Blue Jeans also look strong, and Decisyon, Biba, Spigit, and Contatta have their own competitive advantages.

ProcessCollaborationUber

Source: Gigaom Research

Thumbnail image courtesy of plustwentyseven/Thinkstock.

Relevant Analyst
David Coleman

David Coleman

Managing Director Collaborative Strategies

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