Future of Collaboration

Collaboration is now at the heart of the workplace and will continue to grow, with McKinsey & Company estimating almost 50% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020. While technology has evolved, we still rely on what is now outdated technology like basic cloud storage which creates friction in our workflows and unnecessary work when collaborating.

All of us have experienced the pains of collaborating: spending countless hours searching, updating, formatting, sharing, and versioning documents and content.

While this is true, technology has moved forward in certain ways to help ease the pains of collaboration. Platforms like Quip have been able to create platforms that allow people to work smarter and more efficiently together. In this Techcrunch article on Salesforce’s 750mm acquisition of Quip, the founders state “We’re inspired by the possibilities ahead of us. As part of Salesforce, we will be able to expand our service more quickly and reach millions of people all over the world …. in powerful new ways with our next-generation productivity capabilities. The possibilities of mixing data, content and communication are amazing.”

The last part is profound as productivity shifts towards focusing on integrations and workflows at the data or information level. Integrators like Zapier and IFTTT create powerful workflows. Asana and Trello have allowed for teams to work more fluidly. Slack and Telegram have improved our ability to communicate with colleagues, team members, and partner organizations.

Despite the advancements new technology has made in improving the way we work, there is a still a large amount friction when it comes to collaborating with others. Dropbox in it’s SEC Filing wrote the following as industry trends. “Content is increasingly scattered, The tools people use are fragmented, Teams have become more fluid and global, ‘Work about work’ is wasteful and stifles creativity, and Individual users are changing the way software is adopted and purchased”

Companies like Dropbox are competing with newer products on collaboration and connectivity, but these newer companies are being built form the ground up with aspirations of creating collaborative and interoperable ecosystems (think Slack and their integrations, apps, and venture fund). According to Gartner, this market is ripe for change and could end up losing 70% of the legacy companies. They believe “leading vendors will either focus on building up their work collaboration features or become full-scale backend repositories for data and files”.

The next seven weeks I’ll be exploring these industry trends and how they relate to the current incumbents and what they are developing to maintain market share, what entrepreneurs are building to put pressure on legacy companies, and what new technology is being created to solve the issues that plague current platforms.

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