The upcoming Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018 event will be the second in a row where we’ll be featuring a Conference track on Team Collaboration. What exactly is Team Collaboration (and what isn’t it)? Glad you asked.
A long-winded explanation would talk about collaborative work spaces where users can do persistent chat, share documents, leverage other applications that have been integrated into the Team Collab app’s interface, and more. There’s also a one-word answer to that question, that generally makes it clear what we’re talking about here: “Slack.” Maybe more precisely, it’s a three-word answer: “Applications like Slack.”
Slack burst on the scene a few years ago and enjoyed such rapid viral spread that enterprise communications vendors quickly got to work creating their own versions—Cisco built Spark, Microsoft responded with Teams, and most others followed suit as well. Technically, Unify beat all of them to market—including Slack—with their Circuit product, but it’s fair to say that enterprise IT folks didn’t see much urgency in Team Collaboration until Slack started showing up uninvited (at least by IT) within enterprise business units and teams.
But now the world of enterprise communications has pretty well accepted that Team Collaboration is going to play a role in the future. But it’s still very early days both for (officially sanctioned) adoption, and for understanding what all of this is going to mean.
We’re devoting a significant amount of programming to Team Collaboration at EC18. As mentioned, we’ve got a track of sessions that dig into the details, both technical and organizational. We’ve also got a General Session panel that will look at the strategic implications and prospects for Team Collab. And Team Collab is sure to figure in the keynotes we’ll be featuring: In fact, the guys who really ignited this fire, Slack will make their Enterprise Connect debut as a keynoter this year, when CTO and co-founder Cal Henderson takes the stage. Hopefully Microsoft and Cisco will also update the audience on their strategies for Teams and Spark, respectively, when they deliver their keynotes.
Oh, and there’s one other wild card in the deck, one with potentially important implications: Facebook. The company’s Workplace product—a business-focused version of the ubiquitous social media site—has been making big news, most recently with a major customer win as Walmart announced it would roll out Workplace to its employees.
Workplace is a wild card because anything Facebook puts its considerable muscle behind in the enterprise is a development that we all have to take seriously. Facebook is also taking a somewhat different approach to the idea of Team Collaboration. For the most part, Slack, Spark, Teams, Circuit, et al, target knowledge workers and aim to provide very rich functionality. Facebook, on the other hand, is pitching Workplace as a tool that every worker, from the C-suite to the factory floor, can and should be using, to share ideas and promote collaboration in a truly company-wide fashion. At the same time, the platform supports messaging, video, and all the other rich capabilities that enterprises are looking for in communications tools these days.
That’s why I’m excited that this week we announced one more keynote for our EC18 lineup: Frerk-Malte Feller, Director of Workplace Ecosystem Partnerships at Facebook. He’ll deliver his keynote on Wednesday, March 14, 11:30 – Noon. I’ll be watching intently from the wings, and I hope you’ll be in the audience; our keynotes and all of our program are going to be packed with information and insights on the direction of our fast-changing industry. I hope you’ll register for EC18 .