The need to provide employees with the right tools and means (more than just e-mail and phone) to collaborate, gave birth to what is currently known as “Enterprise Collaboration Market”. The plethora of social tools injected a new working mindset to the business world and as a result, vendors started to add and integrate social tools for their existing solutions. Initially, focus was given to document sharing, moving to document management, versioning and integrated library services. With the advent of cloud Collaboration services, organizations are finally endowed with the much wanted agility, while employees can seamlessly exchange information and track knowledge among themselves but also with their customers and partners. As numerous market predictions123 shoot true, we can expect global collaboration services market to continue its upward trend with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% through 2018. It is anticipated that 2014 will be the “point of no return” year where most of the collaboration enabling technologies along with their associate models will be unconditionally adopted by Enterprises of any size. Major established SaaS vendors are already harvesting the benefits of this vast and yet unexplored market, and are building their arsenal for the upcoming all out war with the new comers in the collaboration services arena.
Challenges faced by vendors
Security: Probably the most prominent challenge is the lack of trust and awareness regarding security in the cloud. Security concerns can be classified into two categories. The first regarding the technical aspects and the second related to the employees misuse. At the technical front there is skepticism over access control, authentication and data encryption, while also IT decision makers are puzzled with client data management and constantly evolving regulatory information security requirements.
At the employees misuse front, the fundamental argument is that employees may process and exchange customers’ information without IT oversight, exposing enterprises to sensitive information leakage/disclosures and regulatory risks. While enterprises focus on preventing hacking, in reality collaboration services if not properly controlled, allow data breaching through accidental mishandling and inappropriate sharing.
Robustness & Use Case centric: Vendors seek to provide tool sets addressing most of the collaboration use cases in a robust manner. The focus is on providing a holistic enterprise collaboration “hub” instead of repackaging existing suites and social media tools. This is evident in SMEs that are in need of integrated solutions able to cover a wide range of business functions.
Readiness: Enterprises lack control over how they share information, and are highly concerned about how they collaborate and exchange valuable business data over the cloud. This uncertainty regarding the value and readiness of social collaboration is reflected in IT leaders’ skepticism towards support, scalability, transparency of SLAs and data recovery upon exit strategies.
Integration: Naturally, the desired collaboration solutions should be able to exploit the existing legacy infrastructure (hardware and software), otherwise there is no point in introducing a service that will disrupt productivity. To do so, vendors should be able to convince IT leaders that the offered services provide the desired levels of customizability, scalability and connectivity with legacy applications.
Organizational structure shifting:
By Injecting social tools and social collaboration “mind-set”, the traditional hierarchical structure is under increasing scrutiny. This is evident in enterprises that capture and transform knowledge. These knowledge-intensive enterprises are now embracing flexible knowledge networks and gradually abandon the former rigid and obsolete organizational structures. Hence, vendors should be able to address this organizational shifting by providing the right tools enabling the creation of knowledge based networks. Localization - mobility: Vendors should localize their services for a multilingual BYOD workforce. BYOD workers use their own devices like smart-phones, tablets, and laptops to access these services. To be able to run the service in a plethora of devices is a must, vendors should provide.
Cloud Commitment: IT leaders desire to get assurances of vendors’ long term commitment to cloud collaboration, in other words to be able to enjoy support and future updates for their purchased services and to know if the vendors put considerable resources in supporting and building their partner and customer base.
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