Facebook, Microsoft, Slack, Watson… who will win the technology battle?

December 20, 2016 by

It seems 2016 has been the year when the mission to capture the next wave of digital workplace technology domination went into overdrive.

In October we saw the launch (post pilot) of Facebook’s workplace offering, after 18 months in beta.

That was followed a few weeks later by the deployment of Microsoft Teams, slated as the response from Microsoft to the rising (even surging) of Slack as the digital workplace tool of choice.

In the search field, IBM’s Watson just gets smarter (as all AI systems will of course) and its enterprise search capabilities are winning fans among DWG members and the wider world.

So what does all this mean and where are we heading in a technology sense in the workplace?

Workplace by Facebook has been a U-turn service for me. At first I was very sceptical that it would be popular within medium to large organizations. But then I heard what DWG member Royal Bank of Scotland (an early pilot) had to say (mostly good) and also began to witness the mounting list of successful roll-outs – and I had a change of mind. And here is what happened with the service in Singapore.

That said, I have also heard a few stories from less delighted members. Whether Workplace by Facebook in the end proves to be a digital workplace star or just a solid new service remains to be seen, but either way it will (and is) shaking up the enterprise technology industry.

Elsewhere, the release of Microsoft Teams and the rising numbers of positive stories as people switch to SharePoint Online (in the cloud) and Office 365, mean the roadmap for Microsoft looks as strong as ever, allowing it to retain the dominant large organization position – and I don’t see that changing for the next five years at least.

Will Slack achieve what Google for Work failed to do and break through the “glass ceiling” to gain a real foothold within the larger enterprises? Not sure with Slack; it has been rolled out well in some cases but mainly as an extra layer of functionality rather than a full replacement service. Meanwhile, Google has, in my mind, lost that battle and is unlikely to recover its big company market ambitions now.

Which just leaves Jive. Users still really like the product but Jive has been quiet this year as it observes some serious competition enter its market. We have wondered for years who would buy Jive but maybe their valuation high point has been reached. Either way, I still expect to hear about happy Jive experiences and a solid future – albeit less bright than a year ago.

And, for the customers, this all bodes well, as so many players, both large and small, invest and innovate in the digital workplace technology space in a hugely competitive market. 2017 looks set to be an exciting technology year!

Categorised in: Digital workplace

Paul Miller

Paul Miller is Chief Creative Officer and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG), rated by the Financial Times in 2020, 2021 and 2022 as one of the UK’s leading management consultancies in digital transformation. He is a business and social entrepreneur. His latest book is ‘Nature of Work – The new Story of Work for a Living Age’ (co-authored with Shimrit Janes). His previous book, ‘The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future’ (co-authored with Elizabeth Marsh), was shortlisted for the Management Book of the Year 2016 Award. Paul’s previous book, ‘The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work’, helped to popularize and explain the term “digital workplace”. Paul has given many inspirational talks on the digital future of work, for audiences at Microsoft, IKEA, Google, Accenture, Harvard Business Review, Cisco, European Commission, IMF, Adobe and Oxford University.

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