SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Dave Michels | April 11, 2017 |

 
   

By Any Other Name Would We Collaborate as Sweet?

By Any Other Name Would We Collaborate as Sweet? Names are important, but the winning category name for "team collaboration/messaging" apps may not emerge for several more years.

Names are important, but the winning category name for "team collaboration/messaging" apps may not emerge for several more years.

There's a new type of business app in town, and it goes by many names, including team collaboration, workstream messaging, and team chat.

To which apps do I refer? A smattering of the solutions in question include: Atlassian HipChat, BroadSoft Team-One, Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Office/Glip, Slack, Unify Circuit, and Zang Spaces -- to name a few.

What's most interesting about this potpourri of labels being attached to these solutions is that the vendors themselves don't seem to care about the category's name into which their products get placed. That's somewhat reasonable, as they all believe their solutions to be so unique that they can't be categorized. Even back in the PBX days vendors often defied categorization with differentiated product names such as PABX, CBX, and NBX.

But there's enough commonalities among these new solutions that a category is emerging. Common features include a persistent, messaging-centric interface for one-to-one and group communications; access to directories and content (shared documents and third-party app integration; and rich asynchronous and real-time communications.

Commonalities aside, major differences in both features and vision exist. Some are more team-focused, and some more appropriate for enterprise-wide deployments. For example, several are evolving from a real-time communications and conferencing perspective, while others are coming from a development and customization point of view.

Adding to the complexity is the rapid evolution (iteration) in the space. It's hard to find relevant names that may be as persistent as the messages these apps store. This category is so young that it's still nameless, and it is difficult to predict where it is headed. Consider how "UC" shifted through unified, mobile, conferencing, and extensible phases as the category matured.

It would be terribly convenient if we had a name for this emerging class of applications. Terminology comes before technology, as it is all for naught if we can't understand what we are actually talking about.

Here's a sample of the top categorical terms that I hear, along with a few notes:

Team Collaboration: It's a popular term, and the one used by Enterprise Connect for several sessions on the topic. I tend to avoid this term because I think it is both repetitive and redundant. One definition of "team" is two or more people working toward a goal. One definition of "collaboration" is two or more people working toward a goal. Does this mean team collaboration requires a minimum of four people? Adding to the confusion is many other (sub) application categories claim they facilitate team collaboration such as content sharing services (Box, OneDrive, etc.) and video conferencing.

Workstream Messaging: This is my preferred term, albeit not the most intuitive. One common theme of these apps is that they effectively become a portal to work. Since they contain people, content, and communications capabilities, they can provide access to all work-related activities -- thus the "workstream" designation. "Messaging" adds emphasis to the fact that these apps center on a messaging UI similar to many popular consumer apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

Workstream Collaboration: This name leverages elements from both of the above terms, and this is the one Gartner is favoring after it (thankfully) abandoned "team collaboration." My concern with this one is that "collaboration" means different things to different people. For example, although musicians in a band technically collaborate to make music, the music industry reserves "collaboration" for distinct artists working on a project together. Also, the "collaboration" label feels unnecessary because all communications (including email) imply collaboration.

Team Chat: While I think "workstream messaging" is more accurate, "team chat" gets the job done. When I use this term I rarely need to stop and explain what I mean. "Team chat" is almost as effective as "Slack-like," which is a term I abhor. My only complaint is it feels too simple -- it understates the potential. A variation on "team chat" is "group chat," but "team" feels more constructive, and team interactions are an important component of these solutions.

Persistent Collaboration Space (PCS): This term leverages the fact that these applications all use a space metaphor (such as a "room") to store and organize persistent messages. It's a reasonable term, but it's also broad because virtually all forms of communications are or will be persistent and stored in a container. This includes instant messaging, SMS, email, most social apps, and eventually even spoken voice.

Workstream Communications and Collaboration (WCC): UC analyst Zeus Kerravala and I used this name in a paper we co-authored in 2015. The paper introduced the "workstream" concept above, and merged it with the more established UC&C terminology. Zeus still uses this term, but I find it a bit clumsy.

I tend to alternate between workstream messaging and team chat, but try not to wince when I hear other terms used. Names are important, but the winning category name may not emerge for several more years.

Juliet was onto something when she profoundly messaged: "What's in a Name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Perhaps it is best to simply pick one or two of the names mentioned above and focus instead on identifying why this new class of applications are becoming critical and how they differ in functionality and approach.

Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Analyst at TalkingPointz.

Follow Dave Michels on Twitter and Google+!
@DaveMichels
Dave Michels on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.