Understanding the various technology segments in the collaboration market can be a bit challenging. Social networking; mobile communication, such as texting; platforms, such as live video, web-meeting, and document sharing; and such applications as forecasting, design and other collaborative processes have all been offered as stand-alone suites. The market is segmented today as:
* Collaboration Platforms - These include video and web meeting. For a decade or more, video was predominately delivered through dedicated lines to provide reliable performance in the conference room. But the internet and embedded cameras have given us ubiquitous video on laptops and mobile phones, as well as provide consumers with video capabilities. So anytime/anywhere video meeting can now take place on any platform. Click here for more.
* Collaboration Applications - These are software applications designed for work collaboration and developing content such as document/application sharing. In addition, they often support a specific function such as design, supply chain, education, and project management. These applications represent probably the oldest segment in collaboration and are the true drivers of purchases of the other technologies in a suite. Click here for more.
* Enterprise Social Network-this is an emerging space. It's mirrored on the social network phenomenon, but for the enterprise, with the proper controls and security. It also includes audit, tracking and capabilities essential for providing a work team with continuous use and value. Our research shows rapid growth and adoption in the supply chain sector. Click here for more.
Collaboration technology convergence is taking place on two levels in the tech markets:
First, there is the merger of the whole collaboration suite - web, voice, document sharing, automation of social networking and meeting and content management - from office to mobile. Microsoft's Lynx, Cisco's Webex, TeleOffice and IBM are examples. These providers scrambled in 2011 to build their iPhone and Android versions to support mobile conferencing to complete the convergence.
Second, at the macro level these technologies are being blended within enterprise and supply chain suites.
• Enterprise software and the enterprise social network, so employees can see who has the expertise to help with issues or help work on new initiatives.
• Supply chain platforms that are designed to provider trading-partner cohesion. This collaboration with enterprise social network technology marries processes and people into a seamless platform.
These, in turn, catalyze the purchase of new devices and services - smartphones, touchpads and tablets, the purchase of video conferencing technologies or desktop/laptops with videos; as well as upgrading mobile and corporate internet services to support the need for greater bandwidth, such as 4G. So the collaboration initiatives are more than the software purchases. They need the infrastructure to support them. All these areas are on the enterprise shopping list for 2012.
2012 will be the year of the convergence of social, mobile and collaboration technologies to provide a seamless user experience. However, there will be challenges. The tech market has seen the proliferation of freeware, which will continue to challenge the big collaboration providers and has put pressure on price. Though unit growth will exceed 10 percent, this growth may not be reflected in dollars, due to deep discounting to win deals.
In addition, the CIO has to deal with the users acquiring freeware and then expecting the CIO to manage it. This will challenge the CIO's ability to ensure security and integrity, as well as manageability of the environment. All this will slow down purchasing decisions as corporations attempt to make corporate-wide rather than team decisions about all these intersecting technologies.
Keywords: Mobile, Video, Project Management, Collaboration & Integration, Cloud, SaaS & On-Demand Systems, Forecasting & Demand Planning, All Technology, ChainLink Research
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