Online Collaboration Tools Address A New Set Of Business Challenges, But Are They Ready For Your Business?

Today, we published our first Forrester Wave™ on the cloud strategies of online collaboration software vendors, evaluating how eight vendors -- Box, Cisco Systems, Citrix Online, Google, IBM, Microsoft, salesforce.com, and Yammer -- are constructing collaboration services. Unlike a traditional Forrester Wave, this assessment was designed to look at how these vendors are addressing the lingering questions many IT leaders have about online collaboration technology:

  • Is it ready for the prime-time enterprise spotlight?
  • Will it keep me secure and compliant?
  • Does it fit into my business environment?
  • Is the vendor in the online business for the long haul?

We felt that it was important to look across a range of collaboration software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors to see how this nascent market was growing to meet these challenges. And it was essential that we do this now because this market is rapidly evolving into the collaborative backbone of mobile, distributed business ecosystems. That's a pretty strong statement, huh? Give me a moment to explain.

We've been discussing the immediate need for CIOs to get in front of their mobile workforce for a while now. What we haven't stressed as much, but will in our upcoming social business and collaboration playbook, is the need to build collaborative frameworks to include the rest of a business's ecosystem in the conversation: channel partners, suppliers, and customers. That means IT leaders must find ways to get information to and allow interactions between groups of people who are spending a great deal of time beyond the corporate firewall. That's a great argument for the cloud, right?

Our survey data indicates many agree: The majority of decision makers at organizations deploying collaboration software indicate they either use or plan to use collaboration SaaS to some extent within the next two years. So, here's the first pressure point on vendors that made this Forrester Wave critical: From a fundamental standpoint -- security, compliance, customization, and integration -- are these vendors ready to handle this swelling demand? Different businesses will need this question to be answered differently, and this Forrester Wave provides IT leaders a chance to look for those items important to them.

For all of those IT leaders looking at these burgeoning cloud collaboration vendors, there's something else important to note: the design point for these online services is different than traditional on-premises collaboration stacks. In the traditional on-premises realm, top collaboration software providers anchored their offerings with robust email platforms that tightly integrated with a broader set of real-time, teaming, and social software. This made sense: Email was the old man in the portfolio -- the technology with which these vendors originally differentiated. In the online realm, though, email is simply a commodity. The real differentiation for vendors is how well they tie content services into core collaboration services (e.g. activity streams or teaming platforms) to allow groups to communicate and collaborate on a specific topic. And the key for these vendors is how well they deliver these services to a range of mobile devices carried by those mobile and distributed employees, customers, and partners. Don't believe me? Look at the popularity of services like Box; observe Google's and Microsoft's unveiling of Google Drive and Skydrive Pro, respectively; notice Cisco's acquisition of Versly and Citrix's purchase of ShareFile and Podio; and look at the emphasis IBM places Connection's social file sharing capabilities in SmartCloud for Social Business. 

So, this creates the second pressure point for vendors in the online collaboration space that made this Forrester Wave important: Have they done enough to make this new vision for collaboration service delivery palatable for IT and business leaders?

This Forrester Wave lays out how the eight prominent vendors we evaluated are helping a marketplace that's interested in collaboration SaaS take those tentative first steps in the cloud. I will be holding a webinar discussing this Forrester Wave and the topics raised above on September 10. In the meantime, I open the floor for discussion on this evolving market. Is this what you're seeing? Do you disagree with this emerging vision? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Comments

Cloud-based meeting minutes

One thing which comes instantly into mind is that there are new cloud services spreading over the internet which handle meeting minutes in the cloud. One of this is the famous http://www.agreedo.com. Others are yamlabs, minutes.io, meetingking.com (by ex-founder of WinZip). and many others.

project management apps in the could

The social tools, teaming tools and real time communication is becoming the stranded features needed in online project management and collaboration applications. Binfire.com (my company) offers all these plus document management and visual brainstorming tools in an integrated package

There are many tools on the

There are many tools on the market right now. They are all different and every one can choose what they like and what features they enjoy. I see no problem at all. If you don't favour this tool you can choose another one. I have chosen for myself Comindware task manager with lots of features and options.

I agree with kira. There are

I agree with kira. There are many resources available on the industry right now. They are all different and every one can select what they like and what functions they appreciate. I see no issue at all. If you don't give preference to this resource you can select another one. I have selected for myself Comindware process administrator with many functions and alternatives.

I have a few questions and

I have a few questions and suggestions about the collaboration tools. We are now using one of the known collaboration software, but we want to move to a collaboration tool http://www.teamwox.com . The problem is, how do we make the transition to a different system, because a lot of files and documents, tasks that are already built? What solutions can you offer us?

thank you

Hello,

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Nice article. Online

Nice article. Online collaboration tools such as WebEx, gomeetnow, gotomeeting, on premise RHUB appliances etc. are of great benefit to businesses of all kinds in terms of reduced costs, increased efficiency, better client interaction etc.

Online collaboration on data

Keitt, a nice article about online collaboration indeed. I currently come across many tools, but a tool for online collaboration which can work only on data, nothing apart from that(no social integration) is proving more handy. http://www.collatebox.com/ is the game changer for all my employees working on data.

-James