The classic scenarios of traditional managers holding meetings around a big conference table with department heads and a projector are changing. And so are the standard outsourcing delivery models that most companies are used to. In fact, if trends continue as research suggests, cloud-delivered services will represent 35% of the total collaboration services market by 2018.
According to research conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by Cisco Systems, old management styles are increasingly coexisting and blending with new ones, creating a sort of hybrid business model that will reflect a mixed bag of corporate tricks. And the unification of collaboration and communication plays a central role in all of it.
Goodbye old-school, hello new virtual business world.
Collaboration services on the rise.
As organizations increasingly need tools that allow for easy information exchange – among employees and with clients or associates – they will rely more and more on collaboration services. This includes everything from video conferencing, and voice or collaboration platforms to integration capabilities. In 2012, the size of the collaboration services market was at an estimated $42 billion, and is expected to continue to grow at 14% annually over the next four years – reaching roughly $67 billion. That’s huge!
According to the report, the three key collaboration services trends to watch for include:
- Collaboration services will be adopted at an accelerated rate, thanks to cloud computing.
- Collaboration services will be utilized on multiple devices by information workers.
- IT workers will have great influence within their company or organization, as they drive innovation in this area.
Collaboration services forecast.
There’s no doubt that organizations are embracing the benefits of collaboration services. And although, as a whole, they will continue to see rapid growth, not every type of service will grow at the same rate. Highlights of the global collaboration services forecast include the following segments:
- Voice. Although basic services like voicemail have been an integral part of collaboration services for decades, related voice services will be the slowest-growing segment in the near future. In other words, workers find other modes of communication (like chat or email) more suitable for quick conversations and higher productivity.
- Conferencing. This includes both web- and audio-conferencing, and while this segment will continue to grow, it will not accelerate as quickly as videoconferencing.
- Social/collaboration. Collaboration platforms are included in this category, along with productivity application services and social software capabilities. Redbooth, for example, is a platform that provides a single place for discussions, file sharing, shared tasks, HD video conferencing, chat and virtual team interaction. The right platform should be simple to use for all team members, and take into account different work styles in order to improve collaboration and productivity.
- Email/IM/presence. As more companies utilize collaboration software and workers adopt multiple mobile devices, email, IM, and presence services will be used more for collaboration and communication between workers, clients and colleagues. Companies will also continue to transition email systems from self-managed, on-premise models to hosted, cloud-based models.
- CC/CRM/IVR. This includes CRM-as-a-service, IP contact centers, and interactive voice response.
- Videoconferencing. This category started with the smallest base but is the fastest growing, and includes traditional in-room, HD in-room, immersive, desktop videoconferencing and multipoint bridging.
What Collaboration Trends Mean for Business
So once now that you’ve heard about research trends, statistics and forecasts, what does it all mean to you and your business or organization? For starters, IT workers will play an important role in working with management and service providers in order to determine what type of collaboration services will meet the needs (and the budget) of your company. Prior to adopting any particular collaboration service, IT workers will also need to:
- Figure out what type of specific collaboration services are needed in order to foster desired business results.
- Interview department heads and information workers in order to determine the features and benefits that will most serve your teams’ needs.
- Solicit input and feedback from management and team members regularly in order to achieve a positive level of support.
- Based on your research and team feedback, select service providers that serve your users and complement the needs and goals of your company.
- Utilize trial periods when possible to properly test applications and software before you commit and transition over to a collaboration service provider.
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