Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | September 21, 2017 |


From UC to Team Collaboration to Digital Work Hub?

From UC to Team Collaboration to Digital Work Hub? Neither "communications" nor "collaboration" -- alone, or even together -- suffice as descriptors of where we're headed with our user interfaces.

Neither "communications" nor "collaboration" -- alone, or even together -- suffice as descriptors of where we're headed with our user interfaces.

With Microsoft's annual user conference, Ignite, set to begin on Monday, speculation is mounting about what the company is plotting for its longtime communications mainstay, Skype for Business. More specifically, I should say, the curious are getting "curiouser and curiouser!" about the UC platform's role in a teams-oriented future.

While the question of the moment is Skype for Business vis-à-vis Microsoft Teams, the issue of how UC and team collaboration tools come together is universal. As Irwin Lazar, a VP at Nemertes Research, pointed out today in a No Jitter post, "team chat has jumped the shark," moving from the siloed deployments of years past into enterprise-wide distribution (read "Team Chat Is Dead, Long Live Team Collaboration!"). And that trend is one of the factors sending UC providers in search of ways to diversify their solutions portfolios, as Elka Popova, a program director with Frost & Sullivan, explored earlier this week in her No Jitter post, "The Search for Sustainable Growth in the UCaaS Market").

The Name Game
In his post, Lazar summed up the rising importance of a team orientation rather nicely (and although he started from a team chat perspective, the idea is applicable to a UC starting point, as well). "Team chat is no longer just chat. Rather, it's the basis for digital workplace, combining chat and contextual text with voice, video, project management, and an increasing array of application integrations." Popova said it more succinctly when she called this concept "productivity UC."

I think that's a suitable phrase, but we are likely headed into a naming game, once again. "Communications" and "collaboration" -- alone, or even together -- do seem to increasingly fall short as descriptors of where we're headed with our user interfaces.

Two more industry watchers, Kevin Kieller and Tim Banting, have taken up the topic, more or less, in conversing via the No Jitter comments stream about Kevin's recent post proposing that Teams is the future of Skype for Business. Both agree a mashup of Skype for Business and Teams would be great, with some caveats -- seamless integration being chief among them.

In terms of a naming convention, Banting, who is a principal analyst with Current Analysis, wrote that he sees Teams as "integrated collaboration" and Skype for Business as "unified communications." UC isn't collaborating, unless you're screen sharing and working on a document, he added, in a separate thread. "UC seemed to only unify clients so multiple modalities (voice, video, IM) were in one place."

Distinguishing between "integrated" and "unified" would be like splitting hairs to Kieller, a partner with enableUC, who said he views those terms as synonymous. But yes, he agreed, being able to communicate is not the same as being able to collaborate. "... collaboration is much more powerful than communications. Collaboration is a positive business outcome whereas communications is just a task, Kieller wrote. His catchphrase of choice? "Unified collaboration."

Where Work Gets Done
And where do users do that collaboration, be it "integrated" or "unified?" That would be in a digital workplace, as Lazar noted in today's post (and as his Nemertes colleague, Robin Gareiss, wrote about earlier this year in her No Jitter post, "Digital Workplace: Moving Ahead One Step at a Time"). I think Banting can get on board with that idea, too. As he commented on No Jitter, "With team collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, you can bring in third-party services so it's a true platform -- a work hub" -- as well as automation services, like Microsoft Flow, IFTTT, and Zapier, for workflow customization.

Microsoft -- with its roots in office productivity tools, experience in architecting shared collaboration spaces, and leadership position in the unified communications market -- will undoubtedly have a thing or two to say on the matter next week at Ignite. What do you think? Will Teams supplant Skype for Business as the user interface of choice and ultimately morph into a digital workplace? Jump into the conversation!

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter!


August 29, 2018

Moving your voice services to the cloud introduces new challenges for 9-1-1 services. These include the need to serve multiple locations, and the increased mobility that comes with having a phone t

August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

June 20, 2018

Your enterprise may have adopted SIP Trunks, but are you up to date on how the latest technology is driving evolution in approaches?

In this webinar, youll learn how the new generation of SI

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
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 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.