WCC and the evolution of collaboration

IT analysts say speed is the key to survival in this digital age. A new kind of communications technology — workstream communications and collaboration — purportedly helps businesses facilitate agility and stay competitive. But is it for you?


A handful of IT market watchers are excited about a new class of technology: workstream communications and collaboration (WCC). The pundits describe it as the next level up from unified communications, a way for people to work more quickly. And speed, they say, is crucial in this digital age.

WCC was the focus of a recent webinar hosted by No Jitter. During that session, ZK Research head Zeus Kerravala pointed out that change is accelerating. Just look at how the Standard & Poor (S&P) 500 Index of America’s largest public companies has shifted, he said. In the ’50s and ’60s, most of the companies had been on the list for 60 years. By the 1980s, companies lasted 30 years. Today, it’s 20 years. At this rate, 75 per cent of the index will turn over in the next decade.

“Darwinian theory really holds true in the digital era,” Kerravala said. “It’s not the strongest. It’s not the lowest cost that survives. It’s the one that’s most adaptable to change.”

That’s where WCC comes in. The term applies to programs that let users intuitively connect to each other in teams. The idea is that through these cloud-based programs, people can share and find relevant information quickly, allowing them to not only work faster but also swiftly shift gears to make new teams for new projects on the fly.

WCC beats email. According to Kerravala, that traditional technology “is a great tool for the hyper-organized A-type who has the time to set up rules and filters, and to drag messages into the right folders. That’s maybe one per cent of the population. The other 99 per cent needs a tool that will do that for them.”

Long live email

The benefits of WCC seem clear. But attacking email might not be the best way to introduce the new technology, according to editor and web consultant David Carr, who said during the webinar that it’s difficult to get people to give up email.

WCC vendors know that well. In the beginning, many of them argued that email is clunky, outmoded and should be tossed aside. But the market resisted that message. So the vendors tried a different approach, focusing on WCC’s teamwork benefits. That’s how they gained traction. And users started migrating away from email on their own, recognizing the team-supporting power of WCC.

Fear of change: the true constant

All of the above must sound familiar to many an IT decision maker. It isn’t easy to introduce new technologies. People cling to their tried and true software — because, of course, most people don’t like change. And if you tell them to jettison their established email processes and get used to new cloud ware instead, many will resist.

But Kerravala is right: organizations need to find ways to work — and change — more quickly. WCC could be one of the keys to facilitating business agility.

As with any new technologies, consider introducing WCC as supplementary to users’ established communications processes. Otherwise, you could run into a wall of resistance.

Image: iStock

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