Corral the Tech Race Horses

CMS Wire recently ran the provocatively titled post, "Slack and Microsoft Teams: Is Enterprise Collaboration a Two Horse Race?" Before even reading the article, the racy title poses some daunting questions to a multibillion dollar market with a lot of different players vying for customer adoption.

But whether or not it's a "two horse race" may not really matter for enterprise organizations. In fact, it might be very far from the real issue. What we see in the market, rather, is an emerging frustration with the current state of communication and collaboration. The frustration is rooted in the fact that all these collaboration "channels" are fragmented and dispersed.

There are so many different options for collaborating that collaboration itself becomes unattainable. And there is no sign of this situation getting better any time soon. So it should be no surprise that what this leads to is the fragmentation of critical information. Furthermore, there are widely different ideas of what even constitutes collaboration in the first place.

Setting jargon aside for a minute, it all comes back to people coming together to solve important problems. Often this involves different kinds of people from different disciplines. Sometimes they're in different locations, with distinct cultures and languages. But the heart of the matter remains about people working together. Then we insert technology -- particularly "information" technology -- into the picture, and things get complicated.

Let's step back for just a second. The widely recognized information revolution is predicated on the fact that information is now digital. At the core of the information revolution is, of course, information technology -- aka, IT. But the actual information keeps getting lost in the shuffle. While we admire the technology part, we often misplace the information.

What we care about, really care about, is having access to the right information at the right time. This essential need keeps getting harder and harder to meet. And as the amount of information explodes, this situation gets worse. Meanwhile the growing variety of different messaging tools doesn't solve the problem but rather makes it worse. In fact, the endless stream of enterprise messaging is just one part of the overall information picture. Even taken as a whole, it too is a fragment of the big picture.

We are all, as one of my colleagues likes to say, promiscuous with our tech. We like to play the field.

More collaboration channels will not solve this problem. Certainly connecting the different channels will help. But what we need today is an easier way to gather together and experience the critical information that allows us to create more freely. We don't really care which technology channels we have to use. Not really. In fact, we tend to use them all.