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The Future of Cloud Collaboration | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Collaboration technology is already a well-established market

The Future of Cloud Collaboration and What This Means to Your Company

A recent study published by Markets and Markets predicts the collaboration tools market to more than double between now and 2018. In 2014, the market for collaboration software tools was valued at around $10.5 billion. By 2018, this market is expected to reach a size of more than $21 billion. That is a staggering compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%.

A primary driver for this growth has been cloud. An IDC study points out that the use of SaaS and cloud based software tools is expected to grow from $29.4 billion in 2012 to $67.2 billion in 2016 at an annual growth rate of 28.1%. The proliferation of cloud based collaboration is a direct result of this wholesale growth in the popularity of cloud based services.

Collaboration technology is already a well-established market. Applications like Microsoft Office have been around for more than two decades now. So what's driving this migration towards cloud based services? According to IDC, there are four main factors driving this change from a customers' perspective:

  1. Predictable costs (usage-based payment compared to possible overpayment)
  2. Speed of deployment
  3. Preference to IT spending as monthly operational cost instead of capital expenditure
  4. Cloud is considered the "latest technology"

Cloud collaboration is often used as an umbrella-term that encompasses different areas of business collaboration. However, as a general rule of thumb, collaboration on the cloud is generally assumed to mean one of the following:

  1. Document sharing (like Office 365)
  2. Voice and video collaboration (like ClickMeeting)
  3. Unified communications
  4. Project management, time tracking, online invoicing, etc. (like Wrike and Due)

So what does the growth of cloud collaboration mean for your company? A Forbes Insight study looked into several companies that took the lead with respect to the deployment of cloud collaboration services and compared them with other companies that were considered laggards. The study found that among the leaders, cloud collaboration was sought primarily by the sales and marketing divisions, following by manufacturing, customer service. However, in the case of laggards, the push came primarily from the CFO and CEO. This is probably an indication that in these companies, the decision to migrate to cloud collaboration was more of a financial decision rather than something driven by a need to drive efficiency.

While cloud collaboration definitely helps in optimizing costs and expenditure, this should definitely not be the most important reason for migration to the cloud. This is because collaboration, by definition, requires a tacit agreement among all stakeholders. When driven by financial benefits alone, the needs and requirements of the users - both within and outside the company - may not be appropriately taken care of.

For example, consider the deployment of document sharing tools like Office 365. Long time users of the Microsoft Office suite may often prefer the software version of Office compared to the cloud alternative. This could be due to various reasons like responsiveness (a local software often responds quicker than a cloud collaboration alternative) or simply because they are habituated to it. Migrating to a cloud-only format could inconvenience the very same employees who you wanted to empower with the help of cloud.

Cloud collaboration is here for the long term. However, given the pace at which technology has evolved over the past two decades, the corresponding learning curve for the various stakeholders has been immense too. So as a decision maker in the company, it is critical to let the usage of cloud collaboration grow over time instead of migration in a swoop. This will give your employees sufficient time to evolve while ensuring your company is on the right path forward.

More Stories By Harry Trott

Harry Trott is an IT consultant from Perth, WA. He is currently working on a long term project in Bangalore, India. Harry has over 7 years of work experience on cloud and networking based projects. He is also working on a SaaS based startup which is currently in stealth mode.