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As enterprises are faced with a plethora of choices for digital workplace technologies, it is important to focus on improving people’s experiences and leveraging tools to help get their work done. To meet that goal, procurement decisions for collaboration technology solutions should not be made in a vacuum. Enterprise planners have to consider and factor in their existing investments, processes, strategic priorities, and future roadmap across the entire enterprise.

Individual business units, departments, teams, and the enterprise as a whole are conversationally driven. In fact, one can trace most organizational problems or issues to poor communication, which is usually characterized by a lack of trust, coordination, and leadership. Conversational workspace products are an emerging technology market for improving team collaboration and productivity. The focus here is on the user experience with simple, easy-to-use interfaces. To spell it out for enterprise planners, look for the following core features, functionality, and capabilities:
  • Messaging
  • Persistent chat
  • Content sharing
  • Video and voice communications (calling and conferencing)
  • Administration controls and security
  • Search
  • Archiving (often via integration with a third party)
  • Integration into business applications (via open APIs)
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP)
  • Chat bots
While the above capabilities are listed separately, they do not work in silos. These have to function together in a seamless continuum that supports deep integration into business workflows and processes. They have to support individual and group productivity. The tool literally has to enter the actual flow of how people work.

With that said, one of the things I tell enterprise clients is to look beyond popular vendors and focus on the critical features, functionality, and capabilities that match their key use cases and processes within the organization. Popular vendors may have great marketing, but you have to parse through that to understand how their capabilities match your needs. Oftentimes, you’ll find that providers who might not be as popular actually possess the capabilities that you need.

The caveat here is that smaller and lesser-known providers, who are innovative and disrupting the market, become acquisition targets for larger, more popular technology providers. So, ensure that these providers have open APIs and a great integration story into critical business applications and processes. Along with that, make sure that any product can scale throughout the enterprise as it grows, with strong administration and security controls.

Here are some conversational workspace platform providers and products:
While new offerings continue to emerge, you can solve the signal-to-noise ratio by focusing on your core, people-centric requirements. Remember, focus on integration into your key business workflows, match capabilities to key use cases, and require strong vendor references from providers that are similar to your organization and those that are dissimilar.

David Mario Smith is Founder and Principal Analyst at InFlow Analysis. Dave is a Gartner veteran of over 16 years and an IT industry professional with 20 years of experience in the collaboration and workplace technology markets. For more information, visit or follow him on Twitter @DaveMario.