Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | February 01, 2016 |


Collaboration or a Beautiful Friendship?

Collaboration or a Beautiful Friendship? Mobile-first collaboration applications aren't going away, so be sure you know with what you're dealing.

Mobile-first collaboration applications aren't going away, so be sure you know with what you're dealing.

When I saw the phrase "casual collaborator" appear on No Jitter recently, I thought maybe it was a reference to Claude Rains in "Casablanca." The author of our No Jitter post, Ovum analyst Brian Riggs, may not be quite as suave as the Vichy military policeman who rediscovers his conscience and winds up strolling off into the fog with Humphrey Bogart; then again, Brian might be that suave. It's close. Brian's pretty suave.

Claude Rains (center) ... a "casual collaborator" in "Casablanca"

In any case, a "collaborator" as we think of it in our industry is someone who works and/or plays with various applications, tools, and interfaces intended to make the process of working with groups easier, friction-free, and maybe even more fun. We're talking the Slacks and HipChats of the world, as well as the apps that are starting to come out from the enterprise communications platform players like Cisco (with Spark) and Unify (with Circuit).

Many of these apps are being positioned as "email killers," and it's common for someone talking up such an app to use, as a proof point, the percentage by which they've reduced their email volume. But Brian gets to the heart of why this may not be as compelling an argument as it might seem: "I don't long for less email," he writes. "I long for less messaging.

"The amount of time I spend using team collaboration apps plus the time I'm still using email and IM needs to add up to a number that's sufficiently smaller than the time I previously spent just using email," he explains. "Because if it doesn't, I'm not freeing up the time I need to be more productive. I'm just mucking about with one type of messaging instead of another."

That's also the thesis behind this recent Bloomberg post, with the provocative title, "You're About to Hate Slack as Much as You Hate Email." The author cleverly begins the post with some quotes about how great this newfangled form of messaging is for workers, then does the big reveal: The quotes are circa mid-1990s, when employees were singing the praises of... email.

I'm not saying the contrarian view of next-gen collaboration apps is more valid than the praise that's been heaped on them by enthusiastic users; those users' enthusiasm is real, and clearly represents a demand in the market for applications that do what HipChat or Spark or others do very well: They fit naturally into a mobile lifestyle; they tie teams together in ways that members find intuitive, appealing and useful; and they simplify what I'd call the "ergonomics" of collaboration -- adding modalities like video or conferencing easily, integrating with document management to create better ways to share information within this new mobile/collaborative lifestyle.

Maybe the complexities that Brian describes in his post are simply a natural product of a transitional time -- as long as you can't totally give up email (which you can't), you're not yet in a position to get to a point where the net time spent on all messaging processes declines.

In any case, these mobile-first collaboration applications are not going away, and they are probably in use somewhere within your enterprise, if you're large enough or have enough knowledge workers. So you need to know with what you're dealing. That's why at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016 we've programmed a couple of sessions dealing with these new applications:

  • Are Mobile-First Collaboration Platforms the Salvation of Mobile UC?: Led by our mobility guru, Michael Finneran, of dBRn Associates, this session will feature speakers from Cisco (Spark), Atlassian (HipChat), Unify (Circuit) and RingCentral (Glip). Michael has written and spoken frequently about the failure of earlier generations of mobile UC clients to gain much of any traction among end users. The question this session will address is: Can apps that were "born mobile" and do UC functions -- perhaps even tie to UC platforms -- fare better among end users?

  • Team Collaboration Shootout: How the New Breed of Apps Stack Up: In this session, Dave Stein, of Stein Technology Group, will be presenting a side-by-side feature/function comparison of several of the leading team collaboration apps.

I hope you can join us in Orlando the week of March 7-10 for these and dozens of other compelling sessions aimed at helping you optimize your enterprise communications and move your company into the future.

Interested in attending but haven't yet registered? Using the code NJPOST, register here by Friday, Feb. 12, and you can save an additional $200 off the early bird rate. The discount applies to registration for an entire event pass or Tuesday through Thursday conference pass, and represents a total savings of $700 off the onsite price! As an added bonus, register three or more attendees from your company for even bigger savings.


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