It’s no secret that cloud computing has transformed the state of enterprise collaboration—and will continue to do so. Besides the enormous size of the market (the cloud collaboration market is expected to reach $21.3 billion by 2019, according to MarketsandMarkets), consider the following compelling statistics:

 

  • The number of computing workloads being run in the public cloud is expected to increase from 9.7 percent to 30.2 percent by 2018, according to Mark Murphy, enterprise software analyst at Piper Jaffray.
  • Some 87 percent of enterprise users believe that 25 percent of their business apps will come from Google by year-end, according to a survey commissioned by InformationWeek.
  • About one-third of enterprises that use Google Apps are currently working with a reseller to integrate the service with other cloud apps to create a comprehensive cloud collaboration suite, according to a survey conducted by BetterCloud Blog.

 

There have also been a number of attention-grabbing industry happenings that represent huge potential in this area. For instance, cloud storage and filing company Box just wrapped up a very successful initial public offering (IPO), and its stock is now trading at 75 percent above its IPO price, making it clear that early adopters of the cloud collaboration space are now leading the charge.

 

As these numbers suggest, cloud technology has scaled up from a consideration to a necessity for enterprise collaboration purposes. To put it simply, technological advances have enabled enterprises to evolve from their original collaboration states; they are now in a position to effectively close the door on archaic, siloed legacy systems that once restricted content from being shared, consumed and worked on anywhere outside of the corporate firewall. Today, employees are able to do more with fewer tools and in a simpler and overall more effective way. That is the promise of cloud-based collaboration. It has also opened the floodgates for remote working, where the communications and collaboration gap is rapidly narrowing.

 

In a world ruled by mega trends like mobile, social and cloud, employees today are able to meet at the digital “water cooler” anywhere, anytime and on any Internet-connected device. This is truly astounding compared to the state of enterprise collaboration 20, 15 or even 10 years ago when collaboration was limited to phone, email and perhaps IM as the most immersive tools available.

 

Take a walk around your own office and you’ll likely see more employees using their personal Internet-connected devices—accessing cloud-based collaboration tools like Google Docs, Google Hangouts or Dropbox—rather than traditional desk equipment. The pros advise that companies get on board with this cloud-driven collaboration, and fast. As Gartner Research VP Monica Basso explained at the 2014 Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit: “Don’t try to block this. Try to exploit this phenomenon. You shouldn’t deny the existence. This is what we see in many cases … Many companies ignore how many employees have installed Dropbox, for example.”

 

Gartner revealed that, by 2016, every employee’s mobile device will be connected to at least five different cloud file storage or sharing applications, like Box or Dropbox.

 

As Alastair Mitchell, founder and president of enterprise content collaboration platform Huddle recently penned in a guest post for VentureBeat (hyperlinked above): “For the market, it’s clear that collaboration is now coming into its own as an enterprise software category, and customers are going to look for simple, secure collaboration in the cloud for everyone they work with — inside and outside the firewall.”

The new norm is that the business user defines the way work gets done, regardless of what enterprise applications are created and presented to them. If business leaders and decision makers don’t  acknowledge and embrace these preferences for external cloud-based tools by integrating them into their existing enterprise collaboration strategy, they will undoubtedly run into problems down the road.