Video conferencing. Multi-person mobile chats. Device compatibility for collaboration tools. The field of virtual collaboration has become richer and more complex than ever before. Divisions between employees, clients, and the public are dissolving which creates tremendous potential for innovation and sharing best practices.
With innovative start-ups and major players all fighting for position, it’s important to assume that what you know about collaboration tools is likely out to date every six months to a year. 2013 is an exciting time for this space; let’s take a closer look at what’s on the table that’s changing the way you do business.
Enterprise class tools are differentiating from tools for SMEs
Enterprise class collaboration tools enable large, diversified organizations to manage global staff, complex projects, and communication with analysts, investors, and the public. In a presentation at the Liferay West Coast Symposium, astute analyst Bryan Cheung discussed the realities of the enterprise environment. Tools need to be adapted to dealing with different constituencies in a potentially bureaucratic environment.
Communications go all-inclusive
Gone are the days where you used one service for teleconferencing, another for videocasting and so on. In a trend that Intercall’s Eric Vidal identified as “webcasting gone all-inclusive,” businesses are displaying a lower tolerance for multiple providers. Instead, product development is trending toward services that integrate everything into a single interface at a bundle price.
Mobile responsive is the new threshold
Mobile usage is overtaking laptops for how people access the web. With this reality in mind, to be competitive tools need to be mobile compatible. This is no longer an add on feature; it’s the minimum threshold in order to be a viable choice for big enterprise and startups alike. This brings various considerations into play, from device compatibility to the realities of mobile workflow.
Social mindsets transferring to virtual collaboration
Social media allows us to connect with virtually anyone, anytime. Services like Quora enable users to go straight to world-class experts and have any question answered in record time. Crowdsourcing services are changing our relationship with service providers; instead of one designer providing five viable concepts for a logo, we now have 300 designers presenting their best idea. Collaboration tools have to enable fast, effective sharing of information in the best form possible. Or users are moving on to other forms of communication.
Visual communications are premium
Teleconferencing was state of the art three years ago. Now, it’s usually referred to as an old school meeting. Not every team or every call requires a video component, but video and visuals are the new currency of successful collaboration. Video conferencing is the standard, even for informal conversations. Screen share technology has created the expectation to be able to look at documents, edit them in real time, and integrate video, audio, and chat. New innovations are finding better ways to leverage visuals during the collaboration process.
The business collaboration space is heating up, and a number of innovations are being introduced into the market every quarter. The biggest trends are leveraging video conferencing, mobile platforms, solutions for specific business sizes and verticals, and integrating all services into a single package. What trends have you identified in collaboration tools that you expect to play a bigger role in the future?