Top Trends in Enterprise Collaboration & Communication

Written by: Unify Square

2020 Predictions for Workstream Collaboration and Unified Communications

As 2019 comes to an end, it’s a good time to look ahead to prepare for what the next 12 months will bring. For those managing enterprise collaboration and communication environments, it’s been a rapidly evolving ecosystem, and 2020 will be no different. As workstream collaboration platforms continue to gather increasing numbers of enthusiastic end-users within the enterprise, IT and security teams will continue to face challenges to support these platforms.

Here are the Unify Square predictions for the top seven 2020 trends – fasten your seat-belts:

Skype for Business is not going anywhere yet

Despite the near-universal sentiment that Skype for Business is dying, its eventual demise will be a long-drawn-out affair. For enterprises with large-scale deployments, even rolling out the latest on-prem server version can take years to accomplish. In fact, some enterprises are still working to transition from Lync to Skype for Business, which means they’re not quite ready to work Microsoft Teams into the picture as a full replacement, yet.

While Microsoft will continue to push the transition to Microsoft Teams, they’ll likely be stuck supporting Skype for Business deployments in some capacity for many years to come. That said, users on Skype for Business Online will need to prepare for EOL, and those still using SfB Server on-premises shouldn’t hold off on having discussions about what is needed to get from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams.

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Zoom accelerates video conferencing

With end-user usage spreading like wildfire, Zoom is going mainstream – including in the enterprise. As Zoom continues to carve out a large share in the conferencing space, the relatively new Zoom Phone offering will begin to challenge Microsoft and Cisco as a cloud PBX alternative – Zoom will prove itself more than capable of being a full UC and collaboration ecosystem.

Slack struggles in Microsoft's shadow

Slack’s strong support within organizational departments of all sizes continues to give it life. But Slack will struggle to thrive in the enterprise as Microsoft Teams ramps up and continues to appeal to the existing Office 365 installed base. At 20 million daily active users, Microsoft Teams continues to put the pressure on Slack (which only has 12 million daily active users in comparison).

To Slack’s credit, it boasts more than 5 billion weekly actions, signaling high engagement. Slack’s die-hard fans will also continue to keep Slack relevant, and those looking at Zoom will likely also consider Slack because of the close partnership between the two companies, but bumpy roads may be ahead.

Multiplatform environment trends upwards climb

Currently, companies average 3.8 platform vendors for their collaboration and communication needs. This number will continue to trend upward in 2020.

While many companies hope to zero in on a single collaboration platform for their organization’s needs, the platform consolidation task is likely going to get more tricky before a downward trend occurs. With platforms like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, Workplace from Facebook, Cisco Webex Teams, and Zoom all continuing to infiltrate organizations’ end-users, additional collaboration apps like Mattermost, Glip Flock, etc. and UC apps like GoToMeeting, RingCentral, Fuze, and more are also experiencing an uptick. Instead of engaging too aggressively in a shadow IT firefight, InfoSec, and IT  teams should look to monitoring and management software to help bridge and lasso the multiplatform gap.

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Enterprises question collaboration platforms and productivity

Workplace analytics and productivity metrics will be key for proving out ROI as enterprises continue to question the degree to which collaboration efficiencies and productivity have increased with the deployment of platforms like Slack and Teams.

As organizations debate the value, IT teams will turn to the native, baked-in metrics provided by platform providers – yet this won’t be enough. Because of the multiplatform challenge, the high-level insight into individual platforms won’t provide a clear picture of which collaboration platforms are truly working. Third-party software tools like PowerSuite will allow for neutral measurement metrics, cross-platform comparisons and innovative perspectives on ways to evaluate productivity in 2020 and beyond.

Room systems will become a things of the past

Conference rooms that can support a versatile mix of multiple collaboration platforms (not just Cisco or Teams) are on the path to status quo, yet there remain multiple platforms and hardware device choices. While this multiplicity of choice is, in and of itself, confusing, additional struggles remain relating to 24×7 availability tracking and troubleshooting, installing firmware updates, and monitoring usage metrics. Additional IT pain arrives in the form of the growing number of huddle rooms which must include the latest hardware technology and which must also be just as well supported as the larger/executive conference rooms.  Intelligent room systems will need to evolve to connect users based on which user initiated the meeting (and which platform they used to send out the invite).

Perimeter security will become a thing of the past

Shadow IT and multiple collaboration platforms will make the notion of perimeter security a thing of the past. Instead, the bigger collaboration security focus will be finding the right balance between IT identified risk and end-user utility. This will represent a major shift for the InfoSec world, which used to primarily focus on safeguarding the perimeter of the company through secure networks – but as more workloads and data move to the cloud, perimeter security increasingly becomes the domain of the cloud provider. Meanwhile, the enterprise InfoSec team will be required to shift their focus toward what happens when a bad actor penetrates the perimeter.

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