Research
Publication Date: 28 August 2009                                                             ID Number: G00170366...
ANALYSIS

The pace of change in the collaboration market is accelerating rapidly. The first generation
of collaboration se...
new technology — real-time editing and HTML 5 WebSockets and Server-Sent Events — and a
cultural shift that assumes event ...
Data portability. With previous generations of collaboration technology, user-generated data and
content was siloed in ind...
12 months should involve monitoring the evolution of Gen4 services; talking to current
collaboration vendors; trialing ser...
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The emergence of fourth generation collaboration

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The emergence of fourth generation collaboration

  1. 1. Research Publication Date: 28 August 2009 ID Number: G00170366 The Emergence of Fourth-Generation Collaboration Services Matthew W. Cain This document details the characteristics of the emerging fourth generation ("Gen4") of collaboration services. It is relevant to business and IT personnel looking for ways to foster innovation and improve inter- and intra-company collaboration. Key Findings • Although elements are already appearing, Gen4 collaboration is more aspiration than actuality at present. • Companies that embrace Gen4 collaboration are likely to gain a competitive advantage. • Gen4 collaboration is more of a repackaging of existing collaboration services than a new technology. Recommendations • Organizations should determine whether Gen4 collaboration is likely to benefit their business. • Organizations should inventory existing collaboration services and road maps, and determine how Gen4 fits in. • Organizations should develop a comprehensive strategy for collaboration investments. © 2009 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner's research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.
  2. 2. ANALYSIS The pace of change in the collaboration market is accelerating rapidly. The first generation of collaboration services — e-mail and calendar offerings — lasted roughly a decade, from 1990 to 2000. The second generation, which saw the addition of instant messaging (IM), webconferencing and shared workspaces, lasted half a decade, from 2000 to 2005. The third, which added blogs, wikis, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and social profiles, started in 2005 and is ongoing. So, for the first time, we are seeing the establishment of a new generation of collaboration services — the fourth — before the previous one has been broadly deployed. Characteristics of Fourth-Generation Collaboration Services All previous generations of collaboration service have been characterized by the addition of new forms of collaboration. What is different about Gen4 is that — except for real-time editing — it does not introduce new forms of collaboration. Instead, Gen4 is essentially a repackaging of existing collaboration services with new use patterns. Gen4 enables the user to easily employ the most effective collaboration service for the business task at hand via a universal dashboard. It represents the liberation of the user from the tyranny of e-mail — although e-mail will remain a critical part of collaboration suites, users will be able to employ other modalities with the ease-of- use of an e-mail in-box. Other characteristics of Gen4 services include the mixing of consumer and business collaboration services; the ability to combine premises-based and cloud-based resources; an emphasis on real-time collaboration; the use of social network analysis tools; inherent mobility services; a mixing of personal and business activities; an emphasis on open integration; interenterprise collaboration; and data portability. Details are provided below. Universal dashboard. Currently, most collaboration activity goes on in individual applications — e-mail in an e-mail client, IM in an IM client, webconferencing in a webconferencing client, and so on. Although there is some interoperability, segmented collaboration activities are the common usage pattern. With Gen4, users will be able to invoke diverse collaboration services within the same user interface, and have a universal queue for monitoring diverse streams of collaboration activity. The user dashboard, which will enable mixing of collaboration services from multiple vendors, will be customizable by the user. However, users will also continue to use specific, purpose-built collaboration interfaces, depending on the circumstances and the devices. Mix of consumer and business services. The first three generations of collaboration technology were all about business — tools and services were deployed exclusively by the business for the business. Gen4 collaboration mixes business collaboration tools with consumer- focused social sites such as Facebook and Twitter (which can also be used for businesses purposes), professional sites such as LinkedIn, and consumer services such as Skype. Mix of premises-based and cloud-based provisioning. The first three generations of collaboration service were almost entirely premises-based, with the notable exception of webconferencing. With Gen4, we expect to see some collaboration services provisioned wholly in the cloud, and others taking a hybrid approach whereby a premises-based implementation exploits cloud-based resources. Clicking on an icon in a premises-based client, for example, could take the user to a cloud-based shared work space application. Real-time collaboration. Although previous generations introduced aspects of real-time collaboration (especially the second generation with IM and webconferencing), the predominant modes of collaboration remain asynchronous — e-mail and shared workspaces. We believe Gen4 will usher in an era in which real-time communications are the default modality, because of Publication Date: 28 August 2009/ID Number: G00170366 Page 2 of 5 © 2009 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  3. 3. new technology — real-time editing and HTML 5 WebSockets and Server-Sent Events — and a cultural shift that assumes event consumption in real time. In this paradigm, voice telephony will be just one of various forms of real-time interaction. Social analytics. Growing up largely independent of the first three generations of collaboration service have been tools and techniques for social network analysis. These will be employed inside Gen4 and exposed to users in an easily understood fashion — allowing users to see statistics about whom they communicate with most, the best time to get a real-time reply from contacts, and indications of which correspondents have mutual contacts. These social analytic services will also be rolled up to enterprise level, to be used by organizations to identify communities and previously undisclosed business relationships. More general analytics services will also be a factor, analyzing trends, tags and content, and making the results available for richer collaboration. They will address questions such as "Which topics are trending up?" and "Who is working on which subjects and projects?" They will also, for example, help to organize meetings with everyone who has been briefed about, or made decisions on, a particular topic; this includes, but goes beyond social analytics, which focuses on "people connections." Mobility. For the first three generations of collaboration service, mobility was generally an afterthought, with a variety of approaches used that offered partial and often unsatisfying results. For Gen4, mobile usage, like cross-browser Web access, is assumed across all devices, including smartphones (such as the Apple iPhone) and "netbooks." What may suffer in a Gen4 deployment, however, is offline use, since the inherent assumption is that connectivity is ubiquitous. Merging of personal and business activities. Many companies have long had rules that discourage the mixing of personal and business activities on a business-supplied collaboration system. For example, many routinely block access to popular consumer e-mail and social- networking sites. With Gen4, there is much more tolerance of the intermingling of personal and business activities, for several reasons: • The tools make it easy to consume a social activity stream in a business environment. • Consumer tools are proving useful for business purposes, making strict segmentation difficult. • The strict differentiation between personal and professional time is rapidly blurring. Open integration services. The first three generations of collaboration technology were mostly "shrink-wrapped" — that is, systems were closed and largely proprietary, and vendors would grant third parties access to application programming interfaces (APIs) only grudgingly. Custom development work by in-house personnel was largely nonexistent. In Gen4, by contrast, we expect to see vendors aggressively encouraging third-party and in-house development via richly documented APIs, commitment to open-source constructs, and encouragement of composite and mashup architectures. Interenterprise collaboration. With the exception of e-mail and webconferencing, use of the first three generations of collaboration technology was generally a behind-the-firewall affair. Interenterprise collaboration was rare, not because of any lack of desire but because the tools were not designed for cross-organization collaboration. Often, a lack of standards — for calendaring, for example — precluded collaboration or substantial efforts to get similar systems to talk to each other across firewalls. Gen4 assumes from the start that interenterprise collaboration is an inherent part of the collaboration experience, and as such it is designed to extend services beyond the enterprise firewall. Publication Date: 28 August 2009/ID Number: G00170366 Page 3 of 5 © 2009 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  4. 4. Data portability. With previous generations of collaboration technology, user-generated data and content was siloed in individual collaboration tools. With Gen4, we see an emphasis on data portability across applications and vendors, and from premises-based to cloud-based models. Vendor Dynamics The first three generations of collaboration service were mostly supplied by single vendors — generally, it was an organization's incumbent e-mail vendor that also provided it with other collaboration services (Microsoft Exchange, Office Communications Server [OCS] and SharePoint, or IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, Quickr, Connections and Sametime, for example). But the fourth generation is characterized by a heterogeneous vendor approach in which services — both premises- and cloud-based — will be mashed up into a common user experience. At this point, Gen4 collaboration is largely an aspiration. The most visible Gen4 candidate, and the most complete in its vision, is Google Wave. It enables storage and consumption of multi- modal correspondence threads in a single container (the container being the "wave"). But there are many other examples of emerging Gen4 constructs. Novell has been working on a Wave-like collaboration project for over a year. It has the same amalgamation of cloud-based services — Novell calls it collaboration in real time and describes it as an enterprise version of the Wave vision. It is likely that Novell will exploit aspects of Wave as they are made available. IBM has focused on linking its premises-based collaboration products with its cloud-based LotusLive (a link that it refers to as "Click to Cloud"). It supports drag-and-drop of attachments between Notes and the cloud, and integration of premises-based IM with cloud services. Furthermore. IBM has announced integration between LotusLive and salesforce.com, LinkedIn and Skype. The company will also encourage vendors that have developed Eclipse plug-ins to use LotusLive services and to integrate them into the premises-based Expeditor client. We expect Cisco to present many Gen4 attributes when releasing its cloud collaboration suite by the end of 2009. It is starting with a combination of WebEx webconferencing, Jabber IM and PostPath e-mail — and will augment this combination with links to premises-based services and the inclusion of social software constructs. We also see Gen4 emerging from other vendors, large and small. Yahoo's acquisition of Xoopit is a move in the right direction. Vendors like Open Xchange and Shareflow, and public portals like Facebook and MySpace, are also making investments. Gen4 represents the biggest threat to Microsoft, which is the dominant collaboration vendor and the one with most to lose from many of the Gen4 movement's dynamics. In many ways, Microsoft represents stove-piped collaboration services. But it clearly has taken note of Gen4 developments and has reacted both organizationally (OCS, Exchange and SharePoint are now in the same group) and technically (integration of OCS and Exchange is well under way, and the social elements of SharePoint are improving). But Microsoft has yet to reveal a strategic vision that acknowledges the developments behind Gen4 collaboration. Strategies for Organizations At this point in the Gen4 maturation curve, organizations should be in trial-and-investigation mode. Developing a deeper understanding of the explicit and implicit communities that exist — both between and within enterprises — and of the tools being used will allow experimentation with Gen4 constructs. Finding motivated groups willing to trial new interaction modalities is key. At the same time, organizations cannot shy away from some of the more painful challenges of Gen4 in relation to security, content control, availability and management, for example. The next Publication Date: 28 August 2009/ID Number: G00170366 Page 4 of 5 © 2009 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
  5. 5. 12 months should involve monitoring the evolution of Gen4 services; talking to current collaboration vendors; trialing services in a controlled fashion; and identifying important collaborative communities, the tools they use, and their collaboration patterns. This research is part of a set of related research pieces. See "Roundup of Business Intelligence and Information Management Research, 4Q09" for an overview. REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS Corporate Headquarters 56 Top Gallant Road Stamford, CT 06902-7700 U.S.A. +1 203 964 0096 European Headquarters Tamesis The Glanty Egham Surrey, TW20 9AW UNITED KINGDOM +44 1784 431611 Asia/Pacific Headquarters Gartner Australasia Pty. Ltd. Level 9, 141 Walker Street North Sydney New South Wales 2060 AUSTRALIA +61 2 9459 4600 Japan Headquarters Gartner Japan Ltd. Aobadai Hills, 6F 7-7, Aobadai, 4-chome Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042 JAPAN +81 3 3481 3670 Latin America Headquarters Gartner do Brazil Av. das Nações Unidas, 12551 9° andar—World Trade Center 04578-903—São Paulo SP BRAZIL +55 11 3443 1509 Publication Date: 28 August 2009/ID Number: G00170366 Page 5 of 5 © 2009 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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