We are reaching the watershed. Collaborate seamlessly or roll over and die

Last year was a year of great developments for the collaboration industry. Workplace communication and document sharing apps such as Slack and Teams have become ever so popular, and even Facebook tried to dipped a toe in to these water industry by announcing a new work-geared service, Facebook Workplace.

With the fast-paced development of technology, communicating properly within a business has never been so crucial to optimizing work and achieving better results. Unquestionably, now more than ever, great collaboration underlies all great enterprises.

This year we are likely to witness a series of interesting developments within the collaboration industry.

Here are a few:

  • Video collaboration will spread to inbound:
    So far, video collaboration has been mainly in the form of scheduled meetings, whereby one party agrees to call the other at a set time, or has taken place in virtual meeting rooms at a planned time.
  • As technologies - especially WebRTC - improve, this year we could be seeing an increase in possible uses of inbound video collaboration. Collaborating on video will prove particularly useful for HR, support, marketing and sales teams, with customers being offered the choice of contacting them on video.
  • Collaboration apps will heed the call of their customers and improve video calling features.

Although collaboration apps like Slack, Spark and Teams are gaining popularity, they still lack a well-integrated video-calling app. In fact, a complete solution that allows for collaboration through e-mail, chat, document sharing and calling at once in an equally efficient manner is still lacking. Therefore, this year we could be seeing developments of Slack and other apps' internal video calling service.

  • More industry purchases and partnership
    For the same reason, increased effectivenee, more companies that have so far been providing specific services (document sharing, chat, email, calling, and suchlike), might well partner with each other and collaborate in trying to create a more complete service.
  • Data management policies will become more important As more data moves to the cloud, cyber-security will consistently grow in importance.
    In particular, it is likely that in 2017 data management policies will become a crucial aspect of data sharing in the workplace, with businesses having to decide the visibility of data, how many different people can access a certain amount of data as well as how access can be revoked if needed. These policies will then have to be adequately applied to their technology by IT support teams.
  • Improvements to Spark
    Cisco Spark, released in late 2015, has not quite achieved the same success of other collaboration apps such as Slack, particularly due to a few hiccups in its system. However, the release of Spark 2.0 is expected imminently, and the update is likely to improve the performance of the app, although whether this will be enough for it to re-gain popularity is another question.
  • Improvements to WebRTC on desktop
    WebRTC, the video standard that makes video calls within a web browser possible, really started to blossom over the course of 2016. However, as many are still using Internet Explorer, and not all browsers properly supporting WebRTC, calls through browsers have so far not reached an optimal quality. This could change this year, particularly on desktop, as browser engineers are working to improve WebRTC experience on all browsers. It might however take a while for the standard to work well on mobile.

No doubt this is going to be an eventful year in terms of developments within the collaboration industry.

Companies with bad communications cannot achieve greatness and it takes active teams and empowered individuals to drive great ideas forward. Now, businesses are presented with a growing variety of collaboration tools to choose from, and the possibilities for an optimized and organized workplace are greater.

And we'll make one final prediction; embrace these opportunities or prepare to die!