Blurring the Lines: User-Driven Value in the Enterprise Conferencing and Collaboration Space

By Jill Huselton

Trend-watchers like analyst Dave Michels have called it: Enterprise communications and collaboration clearly are moving toward messaging and social models found in consumer apps. In the consumerization of IT, services such as Slack and Cisco Spark are increasingly turning to the streamlined tools and UI elements found in consumer social services to promote sharing and collaboration.

The trend works in reverse, too. As Forbes Contributor Adrian Bridgwater notes, with everything from data visualization tools to video collaboration software, if we like it at work, we use it at home. Bridgwater refers to this as “ENsumerization”, or enterprise applications in the hands of the consumer.

Man in park with smart phone (defocused).The lines between personal and work applications have clearly blurred. To David Erickson, founder and CEO of FreeConferenceCall.com, that’s been obvious for some time. Over the years, customers comfortable with using the free conferencing service in their personal lives began to recognize ways to use it in the workplace.

Erickson points out that consumer apps have been piggybacking on the bring your own device (BYOD) trend to ease into the workplace. And while consumer apps are usually more agile and intuitive than enterprise counterparts, challenges remain. Companies that embrace the BYOD trend have to navigate security concerns and IT policies while still leaving room for employees to work comfortably.

So what’s next? Dave Michels points to Workplace by Facebook as a testing of the enterprise waters for the behemoth global advertising company. It uses separate credentials and sports a slightly different look, Michels explains, but maintains a similar look and feel to its popular service. Translation? Little to no required user training. The same applies to the ad-free, fee-based Google for Work.

Erickson says it’s all about following the customer, whoever that may be. When he was first getting started, for example, he didn’t have the money to build a complex system — so he built a simple system instead. Despite competition, Erickson explains, simple won the day because it better reflected the customers’ requirements.

Now, FreeConferenceCall.com has users in Customers moving in different direction, defocusedover 800,000 global businesses, and in nearly every Fortune 500 company — and this knowledge predicated the development of FreeConferenceCall.com For Business™ to meet the administrative, branding and reporting demands of enterprise communication systems.

So what’s the takeaway? Especially within the conferencing and collaboration space, what matters is being at ease with the platform — so at ease, in fact, that we are free to create and share value.

As best-selling author Sangeet Paul Choudary tells C-level executives around the world, platforms aren’t in the production game; rather, they facilitate interactions between connected producers and consumers.

So go ahead, folks. Embrace the blurry.

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