Mobile, social proliferation drives cloud collaboration

As mobile and social collaboration tools continue to make headway in the business world, decision-makers are moving the solutions to cloud computing environments to improve availability, performance and flexibility. These characteristics are important for a broad range of applications, but more so for collaborative services, as employees who cannot communicate with clients, colleagues and partners will not be as efficient.

A recent report by Strategy Analytics highlighted the growing cloud-based collaboration market, noting that it generated $7.4 billion in revenue in 2012, up 12 percent from 2011. Experts believe that the industry will continue to expand and eventually reach a tipping point in two years when cloud-based software is used more than on-premise resources.

"It is no surprise that collaboration in the cloud is so prevalent. Email and web conferencing have been leading examples of network-based services for the past 20 years," said Mark Levitt, director of business cloud strategies research at Strategy Analytics. "Today's collaboration cloud services, combined with real-time and mobile capabilities, empower workers without requiring that corporate IT staff continue to be collaboration and messaging system experts."

A separate Frost & Sullivan report highlighted similar findings, noting that the mobile landscape in particular is encouraging organizations to embrace a cloud infrastructure for managing advanced collaborative tools.

Mobile drives cloud collaboration
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Audrey William said the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the workplace has given employees the ability to access sophisticated collaborative tools from virtually anywhere. For this reason, enterprises need to consider moving communication solutions to the cloud to support this new mentality, as doing so will drive innovation and improve teamwork in and outside of the office.

"It makes a lot of sense for collaboration, which frequently involves people from different organizations on mobile and non-mobile devices, to be served up by trusted third-party service providers with expertise in networking and connectivity," said Andrew Brown, executive director of Enterprise Research at Strategy Analytics.

Because not all clouds are created equal, however, it is important that decision-makers find the right cloud vendor and take steps to ensure they migrate only the most applicable services to the cloud, as not everything will be a perfect fit. As the cloud and mobile landscapes mature, a blending of the two will be almost inevitable, encouraging businesses of all sizes to migrate collaboration tools to the hosted environment.

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