Productive Collaboration a Target for 2012

Jerry Caron - Vice President, Analysis

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise adoption of now-generation collaboration tools has been slower than expected
  • This could change in 2012 – if suppliers get the solutions right

The calendar made its ritual shift from one year to the next over the weekend – just another day, to be sure, but one that no doubt triggered a flurry of Facebook updates and a torrent of Twitter tweets with even casual users joining the devotees in contemporary online social revelry. Texting is so last century. And as for “Happy New Year” phone calls? Well, I did ring my octogenarian parents, and didn’t even use video.

Old news, you are no doubt commenting, and it is certainly true that the rapid shift to new, better ways of communicating is so thoroughly well understood now as to be taken for granted. But it got me thinking about the state of the market for business communications solutions. One might expect that the adoption of new, better ways of communicating in enterprises would be more entrenched by now than they actually are, given what is happening (or, has happened) in the parallel social world. There are independent success cases both in terms of software suppliers and deployments, but the mainstream awaits.

There are good reasons for the slow integration of potentially powerful tools such as personal video, social software and even Web conferencing or enterprise-grade instant messaging, and they have been and will be discussed at length in this forum as well as in the Current Analysis IT Connection reports you have access to. Various IT management concerns and the suitability of the product offers are two that come to mind. Your technology suppliers and service providers are certainly keen to push the next-generation collaboration agenda, but it also seems they haven’t got the products, use-cases or pricing—or all of the above—correct as of yet.

I am, however, expecting to see positive movement in 2012. At a recent partner summit in Barcelona, Cisco—for example—did not use the term Unified Communications, or Unified Communications Manager—or even Call Manager—once in the two-and-a-half days I attended. It was about Collaboration, with a capital “C.” And that supplier is not alone – Avaya and nearly all suppliers of technology and services today are very focused on merging and integrating traditional communications capabilities with now-generation mechanisms and tools.

The question, then, is how ready are enterprises to adopt collaboration platforms rather than communications systems? The answer is very, in my view – but only if their suppliers get the solutions right.


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