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5 things to expect in collaboration in 2016
Wait for it, wait for it...
Tags: Frink  CISCO  collaboration  business relevance  jabber  gamification 
Let’s kick start 2016 by looking at the future and how we’ll collaborate this year. No crystal ball needed here, we spoke to Frink CTO Bernhard Albler to get his input on the five trends that will change the workplace and the related challenges that lay ahead for IT and management departments alike.
1) The rise of team messaging tools
Not only in-house emails are on the verge of extinction, but we are also witnessing a shift away from Unified Communications (UC) toward business-oriented team messaging. Let’s name the one tool that has started and has been driving this trend: Slack. Here, I said it: Slack. The whole business oriented group messaging trend is interesting as it has caught most classic UC vendors off guards. Only Cisco (Cisco Spark) and Unify-Siemens (Circuit) managed to bring an adequate solution to the market somewhat in time.

Slack also brought something new to the market in terms of gamification (check out our article on why gamification matters here). It’s important to keep in mind that people working also like to have fun and throw some GIFs and BOTs into the conversation once in a while. Therefore, when you start using tools such as Slack or Spark, you immediately see the benefit of these gamification aspects: They really make using the tool more enjoyable and encourage workers to get on board. In this realm, Slackbot, Cisco’s Chester and API integrations are ahead of the pack and outshine traditional chat tools such Jabber, Skype for Business or Sametime.
5) Team Messaging will change for the best
So far, all of the competitors in this field have weaknesses that they need to address. This year should we see the coming of better, faster, stronger services if they fix the following issues:

• Audio and video meeting capabilities should be integrated into the solution. Let’s not take a step back from what we could already do on the UC side. People are keen on using their messaging client also as a softphone, on a VC system etc.

• Don’t become another island: connect to other systems (voice/video, APIs...). We have seen how a messaging client can become a hub with Slack via API usage. Once you are used to having those integrations (I can compare the boost in usefulness that Spark got last month once integrations became available), there is no going back. As mentioned earlier, the same applies to softphones and video capabilities: They are crucial to such a platform. For instance, what WhatsApp did for their consumers is an interesting case to look at.

• Get your security act together: that includes authentication as well as encryption. As nice as all those integrations are - you are handing the keys to the castle to the messaging provider- suddenly, not only conversations (as if it wasn’t bad enough) but also content such as documents might be compromised in case of a security breach. We will see if customers demand an encryption “at rest” approach like Cisco Spark has implemented it. Personally, I believe this will be a must and as we have seen with Spark, it is not something that is easily implemented. In this case, I think that the security conscious approach taken by Cisco might become a big advantage.
2) The TP & VC islands will cease to exist
The good old telepresence/ video conferencing island has already pretty much sank during 2015 when they began to merge into larger solutions. Telepresence and videoconferencing will stay relevant, but they need to integrate and unify within a single, feature-rich social collaboration platform.
4) Cloud is on the rise but will still cause headaches
Cloud and file-sharing technologies were already a major feature of collaboration trends last year, and businesses must adapt to meet this ongoing demand. There is no question here: Without a cloud strategy for Collab in 2016 you are toast. Yet, on-premises will not be completely supplanted in the near future. So, in my opinion, one of the tricky issues this year will be to find how to deal with on-premises customers. The question of how large the gap between cloud and on-premises will become remains open. Moreover, cloud collaboration services still raise some security and privacy concerns regarding data storage.
3) The advent of the mobile world
This year again we will keep embracing mobile collaboration, as the era of smartphones and tablets simultaneously sees the growth of remote work, which calls for a seamless experience across locations and devices. Collaboration software will be defined by on-the-go features to facilitate communication outside the office for employees, but also with external contractors and clients.
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Editorial team: Bernhard Albler, Manon Pierre