The market for tools which helps employees collaborate is expected to grow from an estimated US$2.7 billion in 2018 to US$4.8 billion by 2023, nearly doubling in size, according to Gartner.

Social software and collaboration in the workplace includes products like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Yammer and Salesforce Chatter.

Growth is being driven by an increase in knowledge workers around the world and increasing acceptance of real time messaging and social media use to get work done.

“Digital workers turn to tools that are common in their personal lives to get work done. Real-time mobile messaging is quite common in support of enterprise endeavors, as are social media and file sharing tools,” said Craig Roth, research vice president at Gartner.

“The use of such tools effectively blends workers’ personal experiences and their work experiences.”

According to Gartner’s analysis, the collaboration market has fragmented into many submarkets – for instance, employee communications applications or meeting solutions – that often do not compete with each other.

“The collaboration market is the most fragmented and contextually focused it has ever been, making the barrier to entry extremely low,” said Craig Roth, research vice president at Gartner.

“By 2023, we expect nearly 60 per cent of enterprise application software providers will have included some form of social software and collaboration functionalities in their software product portfolios.”

While enterprises are moving toward a portfolio approach for the broader world of collaborative technologies.

“The market is not yet a winner-take-all space, creating opportunities for innovation that will expand the size of each submarket,” Roth said.

“The future of social software and collaboration will leverage new capabilities like social analytics, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart machines.”

“While decision makers still want a foundational platform, there is acceptance that no single vendor can address it all,” said Roth.

“At the same time, collaboration services are becoming infrastructure services, which is good, but it also means more silos since everyone wants to be their own destination.”

The collaboration market has always been very tool-driven and is continuing down that path, Gartner says. Slack is the vendor most often associated with the workstream collaboration market. However, Microsoft and Google have entered the market and bundled their workstream collaboration offerings in cloud office suites that are deployed by vast numbers of global organisations to address general productivity needs.

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