Wave after wave of technological innovation has crashed over businesses in the last few decades. Gone are the days when having a PC and an up-to-date office suite was the cutting-edge of corporate IT. Of course, some innovations have had bigger impacts than other. Cloud technology is the latest trend reaching the threshold of widespread adoption. The recent IPO of Box attests to the success of cloud storage companies. Much of the excitement around cloud technology is based on the door it opens to the quick adoption of other business intelligence tools. It is clearly one of the main forces driving the explosive growth of productivity software.
The growth of workplace communications
Collaborative software tools, like Slack and Join.Me, which facilitate workplace communications are experiencing unprecedented growth. More established players like Salesforce and Evernote are rapidly growing the services they offer enterprises, such as Salesforce’s analytics cloud Wave. The e-signature market, which had seen slower uptake than other productivity tools, grew by 40% in 2014 and Docusign recently reported 70% year-on-year growth. Players in the productivity market also have the exciting prospect of growth in Western markets being matched in emerging markets as the relatively low cost of cloud computing allows countries like China and Brazil to quickly catch up.
Globalisation of the workplace
The fall in the cost of cloud technology is only one driver of growth; the bigger factor is the changing workforce dynamic. Globalisation has had the effect of spreading employees and clients out across the world, separated by distance and time zones. The ubiquity of mobile and tablet use also means that home and work hours have blurred and telecommuting is on a rapid rise. According to Global Workplace Analytics, regular telecommuters will total 3.9 million by 2016, an increase of 21% on 2014. Nearly two-thirds of employees now use their personal devices for work purposes. The actual binds that tie employees to their employer have also weakened. Intuit has predicted that over 40% of the US workforce will be freelance, contractors or temporary workers by 2020.
With a more remote, transient and mobile workforce, the business case for productivity and collaborative software becomes pressing. Using productivity software to project manage, edit and annotate, communicate and sign-off actions not only increases efficiency but also aids in transparency. There is no need to arrange cross-country conference calls at anti-social hours and employees based far away from their office can show their progress on projects in real time.
The age of ‘appification’
Adoption of productivity software has also been aided by the rise of apps. People in general are now much more comfortable utilising a range of different apps on multiple devices. In their day to day lives, people often use productivity tools to help with social media management, content creation and file sharing. It is therefore less of a leap to use the same type of technology in their work life.
According to WinterGreen Research, the cloud-based collaboration market will be worth $21 billion by 2018. Growth is not expected to stop there. Surprisingly, a Harris Interactive survey in 2013 found that 92% of workers still review documents via email, 88% report experiencing document collaboration issues and only 2% of contracts executed in the US were e-signed. These statistics have revealed huge scope for growth. Again, cloud technology will underpin this expansion. A survey Nitro recently conducted found that organisations with between one and 100 employees were adopting cloud storage at a faster rather than larger businesses, at a rate of 12% versus 7%. With businesses of any size able to use cloud technology, the door is firmly open for them to take advantage of productivity software. Salesforce has recognised this trend by increasing its focus on the SMB market with shorter sales cycles, less integration and compliance challenges and a shorter adoption curve.
In some ways we’re entering a perfect storm in relation to the adoption of productivity software. The unrelenting growth of cloud, the ‘appification’ of our daily lives, the use of multiple devices and the globalised nature of business, means that productivity software is no longer an optional extra for a cutting-edge company, but an indispensable component of the modern workplace.
About the author
John O’Keeffe, was one of the first Nitronauts and leads a fast growing team in his role as VP EMEA. Prior to joining Nitro, John was the 9th employee of Salesforce.com EMEA in 2000 where his career continuously developed, ultimately becoming VP for SMB Sales for Europe. He has also held Customer Relationship Management positions at GE Capital & Pearson Education.