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Collaboration 3.0: 8 trends today that will define our tools tomorrow


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A lot of talk has been made of trends redefining the tools people use to collaborate and get things done: cloud computing, rise (and ubiquity) of mobile, consumerization of enterprise IT, etc. These aren't "predictions" anymore — they're well-accepted facts, and the opportunities to build large companies on this trend are getting smaller.

So, what's next? What will the third wave (details within) of collaboration look like? To answer that question, I turned to 18 product leaders and executives working in the field and asked, "What are the trends forming today that will redefine the tools we use to work together tomorrow?"

Published in: Technology

Collaboration 3.0: 8 trends today that will define our tools tomorrow

  1. 1. COLLABORATION 3.0 8 Trends that will define our tools tomorrow
  2. 2. The First Wave of Collaboration (Late 1980’s and 1990’s)
  3. 3. The race to digitize and connect ignites Docs, mail, calendar, etc. become digitized On-premise tools for project management, instant messaging, CRM, ERP, etc. The Internet and email allow people to find information and communicate at an unprecedented scale Selling expensive software (and hardware) into large enterprises or channel partners is the distribution channel • Field sales teams • Large fixed-term contracts • Long sales cycles • Account management teams
  4. 4. The Second Wave of Collaboration (2000’s – Present)
  5. 5. Information and work become decoupled from hardware Cloud storage makes information available on any Internet-connected device Ubiquitous smartphone access means you’re always connected Huge impact on remote working The cost of building and servicing technology plummets Cloud computing Open-source tools Distribution is now the major challenge, not building technology The “CIO-gatekeeper” gives way to bottoms-up distribution… and better tools Apps and services now often achieve adoption in spite of - not because of - management Cheaper, easier to use consumer products penetrate the workplace
  6. 6. What does the next wave look like?
  7. 7. About This Panel Organized by Alex Schiff and Nick Confrey from We asked 18 product leaders and executives from leading startups and large companies: There are a ton of trends that have been redefining the tools people use to work together in the last 10 years. Cloud computing, the consumerization of enterprise IT, the ubiquity of smartphones, and much more, to name a few. By now, these aren’t really open questions or hypotheses — they’re well-accepted phenomenon. As you look ahead into the next wave of collaboration, what are the trends forming today that you think will redefine the tools people use to work together tomorrow? We took the best quotes from their responses, and organized them into 8 trends redefining the tools we use to work together.
  8. 8. Trend 1 the demise of email
  9. 9. Justin Rosenstein Co-Founder of Asana The working world is reaching “peak email” - meaning, the inbox has hit its peak level of usefulness for achieving the complex knowledge work and coordination of our time. Email is simply no longer up to the task for true teamwork and at this point, email is actually holding business back.
  10. 10. “This isn’t to say that email is going away; the post office hasn’t gone away either. Email will just be used for less. And, already, email is no longer the best place for coordinating and managing actual work.”
  11. 11. Micheal Defranco Founder & CEO of Lua Time and again people are saying, not every conversation is right for email and, beyond that, we hear executives concerned that time spent nose-to-phone is impacting interpersonal relationships, client relationships and just practical safety - especially for those working in the field.
  12. 12. Trend 2 always on becomes the default… with a catch
  13. 13. Davorin Gabrovec CEO of Databox Enterprise mobility and BYOD are driving a huge need for more real-time analytics and data. There will be 1.3bn mobile workers by 2015, and enterprises who want to leverage this trend are now forced to provide access to business data anytime and anywhere.
  14. 14. Omer Perchik Founder & CEO of Any.Do With this new generation of mobile-first tools, modern teams have evolved accordingly and now demand realtime communication, data mobility and powerful integrations between their tools to be able to effectively sync as one.
  15. 15. Ryan McDonald Director of Product Management at Convo People take for granted that they have the world’s information at their fingertips at all times now, and yet it’s still shockingly hard to find old conversation threads, reference past decisions, or tap institutional knowledge in the workplace.
  16. 16. “Taking action, whether it’s making a decision or giving feedback, should be as effortless as swiping right on a Tinder profile.”
  17. 17. Molly Graham Head of Business Operations at Quip Right now, having a device in your pocket enables you to remain connected to work without giving you the power to actually be productive. Anecdotally, this tends to produce more anxiety about work as a result, causing you to be “always on”, rather than enabling you to be more efficient... we have to reimagine what productivity looks like in a world of touch screens, intermittent connectivity, push notifications, location information, etc.
  18. 18. Trend 3 rise of wearables and sensors
  19. 19. Christopher Yin Product Manager at Coupa Software While software has improved, what has not improved is how we interact with software - input is still manual. With smartphones and connected devices, we're seeing what life is like with sensors embedded everywhere, capturing and inputting data in for us. A small example is something I noticed in Taiwan - inbound buses auto send notifications about arrival time to those close to the bus stop.
  20. 20. Micheal Defranco Founder & CEO of Lua I believe that wearables in workplaces like hospitals, nursing homes, areas impacted by natural disasters, and others are going to become standard in the years ahead. To interrupt a meeting to check one’s phone to get an update on something is now not seen as a benefit – email on the go has lost its shine.
  21. 21. Trend 4 relevance becomes king
  22. 22. Robi Ganguly Cofounder of Apptentive Employees who can efficiently parse the volume of communications they have and focus on the areas of import will succeed in being the most valuable, in the know, team members. The rise of "follow" models in the form of RSS feeds, Twitter and Instagram give insight into how employee communication and information sharing will have to evolve.
  23. 23. Alastair Mitchell CEO of Huddle The cloud collaboration players that will be left standing are those that recognize people require ubiquitous access to the information relevant to them — not visibility of every document, every piece of feedback and discussion going on within the business.
  24. 24. Trend 5 cloud storage becomes commodized
  25. 25. Neil McCarthy Director of Product at Yammer Another trend I see forming is cloud storage companies creating collaboration products in an attempt to decommoditize their product portfolio. The four main cloud storage products, Google Drive, DropBox, Box, and OneDrive, are in a price war which can only end in the commoditization of cloud storage (we’re possibly already there).
  26. 26. Alastair Mitchell CEO of Huddle Services grounded in standalone file sync and share technology have realized they’re playing a zero sum game and collaboration is where the true value lies.
  27. 27. Trend 6 from data silos to API pipes
  28. 28. Jason Shah Co-founder of Your CRM lives in one place, your files live in another, and your tasks live in yet another. And not enough systems talk to each other. We are willing to live with this - and indeed, we create this fragmentation - because the user experience and quality of each individual application is high enough to justify the cost of fragmentation.
  29. 29. Benedikt Lehnert Chief Design Officer at Wunderlist Tools that create data and/or usage silos are dead. Future tools need to be open for integrations and exchange in order to reduce effort for the users. It just makes sense that I can create to-dos right out of my email client and attach various files I have stored in my cloud storage.
  30. 30. Eliot Sun CEO of Kloudless APIs are a good glue to make this happen… Problem is, APIs themselves are also fragmented, each with its own unique set of features and documentation. … In a more grassroots effort, API-for- APIs companies like,, and Kloudless enable developers to integrate many APIs at once with a single API.
  31. 31. Alexander Mimran Founder of Minbox As software gets smarter and APIs more robust, all we'll have to do is point one at another and let them figure out what to do. APIs now are like toddlers playing in a sandbox: in order for them to share and get along, they need to be watched or they'll take a mouthful of sand.
  32. 32. Trend 7 smarter, not just better organized
  33. 33. Alex Moore CEO of Baydin First, deep learning and other techniques in artificial intelligence are finally arriving. Voice recognition has moved forward by leaps and bounds over the past few years, as have image recognition and machine translation. These techniques will be applied to collaboration in upcoming years, though the categories of problems that they can solve will probably surprise us.
  34. 34. Tom Limongello Product Management at Crisp Media The next wave of collaboration will be to pull apart some of the granular UX controls from web 2.0 and replace them with Voice UI controls and computer assisted inferences so that a user will not have to do the same prep work for every business interaction with colleagues or clients.
  35. 35. Alex Cote Co-founder at Cloze Our devices and apps will become more situational aware and able to assist and prompt—learning from the ever expanding amount of contextual information that continues to become available.
  36. 36. Randy Lubin COO of (Acquired by Jive 2012) Automation bots, acting as collaborators, will take on varied work. … Many startups now have bots in their chat room that can answer sophisticated queries and carry out tasks (e.g. run unit tests on the latest build and deploy it to the production server).
  37. 37. Alexander Mimran Founder of Minbox Us lazy apes are still having to do too much, dammit! Smarter software means we'll have less lifting to do. Auto-responding, auto-organizing, auto-managing.
  38. 38. Benedikt Lehnert Chief Design Officer at Wunderlist A lot of the things we do manually, such as researching information or replying to most emails could be automated based on our personal behavior patterns or preferences. The tools we use could also react to the context the users is in. A simple example: Switch off work email notifications when I come home and only notify me if my direct reports are sending a message with really urgent content.
  39. 39. Trend 8 changing the human element of “work”
  40. 40. Omer Perchik Founder & CEO of Any.Do With the increasing usage of these apps at the workplace, we're witnessing a growing need for supporting team collaboration scenarios while preserving the value for an individual user. This trend resonates perfectly with Jeff Bezos's quote from 2007, "We humans co-evolve with our tools. We change our tools, and then our tools change us.”
  41. 41. Neil McCarthy Director of Product at Yammer A trend I see forming today is the application of graph theory to collaborative productivity, similar to Mark Zuckerberg’s application of graph theory to social networking. When we’re working together in teams, we’re actually collaborating around a set of objects that are related to us, our team, and each other.
  42. 42. Robi Ganguly Cofounder of Apptentive Customers should have access to company collaboration tools. They should be routinely invited "in" to the conversation and able to talk with multiple employees, across different organizations. As this single view of the customer emerges, we'll see an exponential growth in the amount of internal communication that is very tied to customer empathy and relationships.
  43. 43. Christopher Yin Product Manager at Coupa Software While we have tools to share code, documents, messages - a crucial part that is missing is camaraderie, teamwork, praise, and the human element of collaboration.
  44. 44. Randy Lubin COO of (Acquired by Jive 2012) Teams are also becoming more fluid and ad hoc contributors need tools to quickly get up to speed with a team / project’s context and may require just-in-time education to gain necessary skills. New reputation signals will be needed to better select short-term collaborators. New contracts and arbitration conventions may be needed to reduce the transaction costs / time in bringing on ad hoc teammates.
  45. 45. Tina Egolf Product Manager at Podio Our basic paradigms about work are more than 200 years old, but they are not laws of nature. We now have all the technology we need to actually start talking about these paradigms and question the way we structure our work, the way we build organizations and the way we perceive ourselves as “workers”. Freedom, responsibility, transparency and meaning won’t be optional buzz-words for fancy (employer) branding campaigns.
  46. 46. Brought to you by @alexschiff @nickconfrey