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How is team collaboration changing enterprise social tools?

Enterprises are favoring team collaboration platforms over stand-alone social tools, pushing vendors to keep up with more comprehensive collaboration platforms, like Slack.

The definition of collaboration is fluid, and the range of collaboration offerings is broad. Enterprise social tools have been in use since before the advent of disruptive team platforms like Slack.

Enterprise social tools come in two flavors: chat platforms, like Yammer, and more comprehensive platforms, like Microsoft SharePoint. Every major vendor has its own version of these two platforms, as they can enable expedient communication. However, these social platforms are mainly used for transactional information sharing and aren't built for workflows or multichannel communication.

Broader enterprise social tools, like Microsoft SharePoint or IBM Connections, integrate with native chat platforms, along with Microsoft Office applications. To varying degrees, they also offer social features like microblogging designed to appeal to digital natives. However, while these platforms have all the core capabilities necessary for collaboration, they are vendor-based and not as open to user customization and third-party application integrations.

Vendor-specific enterprise social tools still retain loyal user bases that are comfortable with the applications, and these platforms can support most conventional collaboration scenarios.

However, in terms of innovation and momentum in collaboration, the growth is elsewhere in team collaboration platforms like Slack that are built from the bottom-up for today's digital workplace. While these platforms use the same tools as earlier offerings, they are purpose-built for a different way of working. Rather than being application-focused, like with Yammer, the focus is on persistent engagement around particular projects or workflows without regard for the particular applications used.

The main change to enterprise social tools is that collaboration platforms are now emulating the Slack model, where their persistent usage makes them social by nature. This shift is recent and so widespread that even Microsoft has made a major pivot from Skype for Business to Teams simply to keep pace with Slack. All the major collaboration players have followed suit and, going forward, you'll be hearing less about the likes of Yammer and SharePoint, and much more about Teams.

Do you have a question for Jon Arnold or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

This was last published in April 2019

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