Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Mike Gotta (Gartner) – Workstream Collaboration

Mike Gotta, VP Research at Gartner, opened the IBM Watson Workspace and Watson Work Services Strategy and Roadmap session with his perspective on the dynamics we’re seeing today around the emerging workstream collaboration market.  

A couple of things that stood out for me (my comments in italics):

  • Conversation is the new binding fabric for teams.  (This idea of conversation vs. collaboration is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, so it was good to hear this from him, too.)
  • Work is becoming more and more non-routine, and non-routine work requires conversational insight (and a different set of tooling than we’ve had in previous generations of tools).  (Also points to need to automate as much of the routine work as possible, leaving only the non-routine for manual handling.)
  • There is no shortage of vendors approaching this space, and they’re mostly coming at it from the angle of their existing solutions (e.g., when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.)  (My view: Bridging the old and the new – or more to the point, integrating the old and the new – is going to be important both to ease the adoption pain, but also to allow people to naturally figure out which tool is right for which situation.)
  • Importance of not just making this “another inbox.”

Live notes:

Still trying to untangle team coordination and performance

The basic core dynamics on what makes for better team dynamics and performance is something still trying to get hands around.

Work is becoming more and more nonroutine.  More squishy, dynamic, situational.  And that requires different way of thinking, different set of tooling than we had in previous generation of tools.  

Two attributes – situational awareness and self-synchronization.  (Came out of military.).  Workstream collaboration – allow one team-member to self-synchronize without impacting others.

Can we find a way to replicate the dynamics and practices of high performing teams to create network effects?

Conversation as the new binding fabric for teams.

How did we get here?

Starting in 1990s – influenced by Productivity suites (document workspaces) --> influenced by market convergence (real-time collab workspace) --> influenced by consumer social media (community & professional networking workspace) --> influenced by consumer mobile messaging (conversational workspace)

Focus on productivity --> Focus on relationships --> Focus on performance

Routine work --> Non-Routine Work

What collaborative activities work best?
  • DevOps
  • Cross-functional work
  • Rapid & Incident Response
  • Exception Handling
  • Innovation Groups

Gartner Findings:  The Optimist
  • Conversation models are broken across collaboration & unified communication tools.
  • Vendors entering market from different “heritages” emphasizing different core features.
  • Nonroutine work requires conversational insight.
  • Conversational insight occurs between people & between people & conversational AI platforms (CAP)
  • Workstream collaboration can improve team coordination and performance in ways that delivers compelling business results.

Garter Findings:  The Pessimist
  • Early stage market with evolving collection of vendors.  New entrants still to come.
  • Technical maturity varies.
  • Focus on business use cases weak.
  • Conversation overload (“another inbox”).
  • Solves some work styles but not all.
  • Better support needed for collaborative work management.
  • Employee learning curve as well as the digital dexterity needed for effective use.

  • Assess how the market is delivering workstream collaboration solutions to understand your options
  • Expect to manage a small, diverse portfolio of workstream solutions (early stage market, avoid standardization)
  • Apply workstram collaboration for team activities similar in behavior and team dynamics as found in the use cases presented
  • Act in a bottoms-up manner but manage as a portfolio and program.
  • Assess deployments to gauge effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.