Innovation in the area of workplace collaboration has quietly grown over the last several years, but over the next five years is primed to be one of technology’s strongest growth areas.
The Enterprise Workplace Collaboration market is estimated to grow from $26.68 Billion USD in 2016 to $49.51 Billion USD by 2021, and many forecasters place the projected value to be even higher.1 So what is it about the current state of the industry that makes collaboration such a powerful space to be in?
The biggest factor is in all of the technology advancements made in other areas that are now coming together to solve the historical challenges in a strong workplace collaboration solution. Advancements in the Cloud, Messaging, Analytics, Machine Learning and Data Visualization are all critically important to a number of verticals, but brought together they provide the spark to accelerate growth within Enterprise Collaboration.
Consider how the Cloud, which today provides the backbone to major services used around the world, is a key driver to workplace solutions. Deploying services and workspaces from the Cloud is essential to reducing the costs associated with IT infrastructures and maintenance and is the only feasible answer to rapidly evolving feature sets and connections. Increasingly the primary business driver for the enterprise collaboration market, the Cloud provides the ability for organizations to increase their efficiency by offering true collaboration solutions to distributed offices and partners around the world. Further, a vast number of collaborative features and tools have yet to be invented and a dynamic system that provides easy connections into these innovations will ensure that an organization is always able to run the newest and most valuable services available.
Enterprise Collaboration today includes a wide number of solutions, with no single player emerging as dominant across every segment. Collaboration solutions include Messaging, Video Conferencing, Mobility, Collaborative Tools, Email, Application Sharing, Web Services, Search Services, Resource and Process Management, Business Intelligence and many others.2 Given the fairly broad nature of these services, it’s also difficult to conceive of any single company being able to capture every area at a quality level superior to their competitors, although undoubtedly several are trying.
Cisco, Zoom, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Ninian Solutions, IBM, Atlassian, Igloo, VMware, Jive, Salesforce.com and many others desire to capture much or all of the space with a predominantly North American and European focus on growth. But logistically regions of APAC, Latin America, and the Middle East are aggressively growing as emerging markets in the area of enterprise collaboration owing to the increased focus on digital workplace transformation initiatives and increase in IT investment.
Nearly every company faces the reality of an increase in specialized knowledge as they rush to meet the demands of an aggressive and competitive landscape. In today’s competitive environment, the only way to avoid commoditization and ensure competitive advantage is through innovation. In this environment collaboration is critical, with the specialization of work tasks and innovation requiring a deeper level of team communication and knowledge management than at any previous point in modern history.
Overall globalization is also a key driver in how the industry has transformed. The organizational structure of dispersed teams around the world is no longer a luxury but a requirement. In research conducted by SDL, 59% of the surveyed considered their teams geographically dispersed.3 Companies must think and behave globally if they are to survive, but this is far easier said than done. Managing across time zones and cultural differences is impossible to solve with a pure technology solution, but instead must be handled with a wide array of components that come together to bring true company unity and cohesion. A simple messaging solution simply won’t suffice, and this gap in current solution sets provides increased opportunities for growth.
Funding also remains high for enterprise collaboration solutions. Earlier this year US based Smartsheet raised $52.1 million in Series F funding from a series of investors, including existing investor Insight Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Sutter Hill Ventures, and new investor Summit Partners.4 Smartsheet is far from alone in this regard; investment into enterprise collaboration companies was at an all-time high in 2016, with the strong likelihood that 2017 will finish even higher.
All of this simply means that over the next five years it is certain that the field of enterprise collaboration will continue to accelerate. Frictionless, immersive enterprise collaboration in the workplace is an essential part of a successful business and thus will be one of the biggest areas of growth for years to come.
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