Learning from Small and Large UC Companies to Better Deliver on Enterprise Collaboration
The enterprise communications industry continues to evolve as businesses across the globe adjust to changes in workplace culture and new requirements arise for strengthening collaboration among internal teams, partners and customers. With countless new players in the enterprise collaboration space, users have more choices than ever when it comes to selecting the best tools for their organization.
Several startups and smaller companies are even earning praise for disrupting traditional business communications platforms. Many are helping accelerate innovation, but typically lack the same experience in meeting enterprise needs as the larger, more established players. At the same time, the bigger companies may have a wealth of experience, but can be slow to adapt. Luckily, a number of emerging trends demonstrate how small and large companies can actually learn from each other, allowing both to better serve their enterprise users.
The death of voicemail and email
While unified email and voicemail is a big selling point for most unified communications platforms, it’s not such a big deal to millennials like me – who will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. We prefer communicating by text rather than voice call. In fact, if we were limited to having only one feature on our mobile phones, most of us would give up talking before we’d give up texting. A few of us never even check voicemail. The message on my voicemail actually asks people not to leave one.
Smaller companies are successfully leveraging this trend by translating the way we communicate into the workplace. It’s also no secret that email is declining in popularity, but is still undeniably important for businesses. Most of us agree it’ll still be around for another decade or so. Given larger companies are the tried and true experts in unified voice and email, smaller companies should look to them to master this fundamental block within the enterprise collaboration framework.
Here an app, there an app
With a number of players in the field, there are a lot of different team and project collaboration tools and apps to choose from. Moreover, there are many good, free apps available from various startup companies. Just as consumers don’t want to pay a premium for long-distance voice or texting, collaboration is quickly being perceived as a low-cost commodity because of the influx of free or “freemium” apps available. The big UC platforms will need to adapt to this trend by offering richer services like real-time collaboration, match the free features of upstarts with try-and-buys, offer their own freemiums up to a defined threshold, or only charge for value-added services.
We can expect a great deal of consolidation, as with any crowded space. Many of the smaller apps will begin to merge and we’ll start to see app mash-ups that will drive further innovation. Likewise, we can expect to see classic and fundamental UC features condensed into the plethora of newer apps – especially as larger developers spend more time combining the collaborative functionality driven by smaller companies into a simpler, single-app interface. This is already happening with voice-enabled apps like Salesforce and we’ll continue to see similar voice and video integration into our workflows. In order to make the UC environments of tomorrow simple and seamless to use, small and large companies need to learn to integrate each other’s unique benefits in order to improve and survive shifting workforce culture and expectations.
Collaboration is key
Even business users are drowning in apps at the moment, which limits the value of new apps—no matter how cool they are. Some recent research reveals huge numbers of apps being used with typical business employees, indicating they use between 300 and 400 different apps. Collaborative apps have the potential to change that and significantly boost productivity as more interoperable tools and features are integrated and the experience becomes more reflective of the way we communicate in our personal lives.
Collaboration must also extend beyond internal audiences and include partners, customers and other key stakeholders outside the company firewall. To achieve this collaboration nirvana, large and small companies will need to meet somewhere in the middle, learning and integrating what the other has to offer, in order to truly unify communications and thrive in the new app-based ecosystem.
Edited by Alicia Young