With 2015 just around the corner, it's time to take a look at the growing collaboration trends that will affect the way you work with your team this coming year. While some are merely logical extensions of ongoing trends, a few may surprise you.
1. More Collaboration via Mobile/BYOD
With mobile devices out-shipping desktop units four-to-one, one thing is clear: mobile is king.
And it isn't just about units sold, it's also about work behavior on these devices. For example: 47% of all email is now being opened on a mobile device rather than on a desktop email client (based on 251 million opens tracked by Litmus).
This doesn't mean completely abandoning desktops in favor of tablets, however, as the sheer overwhelming variety of devices brings about its own challenges. Converting files to compatible formats, for example. What is does mean is that team members will choose to work on personal mobile devices even when they're in the office, just for the convenience of accessing familiar tools and apps.
As a result, mobile collaboration apps will continue to be a priority for team collaboration. Software companies creating collaboration tools will have to continue investing in mobile applications, especially with the sheer number of customer teams clamoring for a way to work together via their smartphones. Desktop UIs will continue to take a backseat to the growing demand for mobile collaboration tools.
And companies will have to adapt. Over the past six years, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend has been steadily reaching critical mass, giving CTOs and IT departments their fair share of security concerns. But with cloud storage now more accessible and the benefits of allowing people to work from the familiarity of their personal devices clear, expect 2015 to be the year when BYOD goes mainstream.
2. Increased Need for Systems (and Products) that Work Together
Alongside the dominance of mobile and upward trend of BYOD, there will be an increased focus on interoperability: the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without extra effort.
Think about it: various new work devices coupled with the need to leverage new technologies that answer customers changing needs equals...? A big challenge. A team member using an iPad needs to participate in the same video conference as someone attending via webcam on a Linux laptop, for example, and it all has to work seamlessly.
Work is already being done to make these integrations customizable by end users. Services like IFTTT (If This Then That) and Zapier have made automation between social collaboration tools and the larger ecosystem of work apps possible. For example, the Wrike and Zapier integration gives users the chance to create tasks from their choice of apps — anything from Evernote to Zendesk to Marketo.
3. Email Superseded by Social Collaboration Tools
As early as 2010, Gartner was predicting that 20% of business users would choose social networking solutions over email as the main channel for communication and collaboration by 2014. With modern business growing more social in nature, that transition has come, and many companies are introducing cloud-based or internal social collaboration solutions.
Here at Wrike, we've long said that managing projects via email is not ideal; there's a loss of context when information is consumed in fragmentary replies. There's a tendency for duplicated information as multiple people respond to one email thread. There's a lack of visibility into how a project is faring, forcing managers to spend time manually gather status updates from each contributor.
Project management and social collaboration software solves the email problem by giving users tools to stay on top of projects and make communication more efficient between team members. That's not to say email is dead. Rather, it will go back to being used as a direct communication tool instead of a platform for project management and collaboration.
4. The Rise of Users Helping Users
But possibly the biggest trend to watch out for is the rise of the community-led knowledge base. More companies will encourage super users and customer evangelists to take an active role in helping other users in the community, sharing tips and tricks in a common knowledge base.
Alongside this, expect customer help desks to dwindle as crowdsourced support steps up to fill the need. Users still expect service in real time, so there will still be a need for live operators. But for the more reactive customer service desks, fully fleshed-out wikis and forums will be key to providing critical information that's contributed by fellow users.
Where do you see collaboration going?
Agree with our predictions, or do you have a different idea of how we'll collaborate this coming year? Share the post or our collaboration trends Slideshare and see what your colleagues think. We'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.
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Image Credit: Crystal Ball by Christian Schnettelker on Flickr. Some rights reserved. Edits made.