In 2014 we saw cloud prices race towards $0. As they’re now in a commodity business, major cloud storage vendors such as Amazon and Google (News - Alert) have announced or significantly expanded their value-add services for how we interact with the content that we store in the cloud (with Zocalo and Drive respectively). However, there is still so much unrealized potential for how cloud collaboration technology can deliver increased productivity and business value to the enterprise.
In particular, I believe that three trends in particular will dominate the way that our digital workforce continues to derive business value from the cloud in the coming year:
Mobile Becomes an Interface, Not Just a Window, For Content
Companies can no longer ignore that mobile devices are ingrained in our digital work (case in point: Apple and IBM’s (News - Alert) new offerings for the enterprise announced this year). In 2015 however, we will see an evolution away from simple workforce mobilization and secure access to documents, towards a stronger focus on productivity and interacting with content and colleagues via mobile devices. This will be particularly prevalent in larger organizations, where the number of documents, employees, and interactions is much higher. Mobile apps will need to move away from pure sync and share, and become true tools to help workers navigate, prioritize and act on the huge number of interactions that they need to deal with.
Content Analytics Helps Us Work More Intelligently
Collaboration technology no doubt makes us more productive, but what can we learn from our emerging collaboration practices? Using analytics to study the metadata around content collaboration, enterprises can now track patterns in workflow, identify bottlenecks and remove collaboration barriers to make our work even more productive. This gives enterprises more control, intelligence and visibility around their information and the content that employees are creating and consuming. Just as there was a shift from traditional advertising methods to online advertising due to the fact it could be measured and tracked, a similar transformation is underway in digital document collaboration and publishing.
Collaboration as Business Enabler
Up until now, collaboration has focused very much on driving internal cost savings. Instead of the dreaded “reply-all” email where dozens of colleagues play the dangerous game of version control over a piece of content, users access a collaboration portal to streamline this interaction, increasing operational efficiency. What we’re going to see more of in the coming year is a larger focus on how this productivity can drive external business value, whereby organizations use their collaboration tools as a key differentiator when working with clients. For example, consultancies and professional services firms can create customized client portals that provide clients with increased visibility into how their projects are going, key milestones hit and core collateral delivered.
The cloud has made information easily accessible: all you need is an Internet connection to pull what you need via any device. This is just the beginning. We are now seeing collaboration not as a convenience, but as a business imperative for today’s digital workplace.