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Communication, Collaboration, and Content: Shifting to Contextual Activities


Peter O’Kelly, Principal Consulting Analyst


After decades of mixed results and occasional dead ends, the enterprise market landscape for communication, collaboration, and content (3C) products is shifting to a new and more productive focus on contextual activities. Coinciding with broader Digital Enterprise trends and accelerated by the abrupt transition to remote work triggered by the 2020 pandemic, the contextual activity shift also applies architectural and user experience models that have proven effective in consumer-oriented domains.

The shift has deeply disrupted the enterprise 3C vendor competitive landscape, resulting in us now calling this space 3CA, for communication, collaboration, content, and activities. Vendors have been moving in this direction with Microsoft, for example, rushing to introduce Microsoft Teams in late 2016 after Slack and its “where work happens” value proposition impacted the legacy email- and meeting-centric 3C norm. Google, after years of limited focus on enterprise opportunities, hired a new leadership team for Google Cloud and G Suite, and is now similarly seeking to capitalize on 3CA dynamics. Smaller 3CA vendors including Atlassian and Zoom have built strong market momentum and, along with Slack, seek to relegate the enterprise incumbents to supporting roles. Workplace by Facebook is another compelling 3CA candidate, for enterprises that can overcome trust concerns based on Facebook’s consumer market challenges.

The contextual activity shift is also being driven by a renewed focus on no- or low-code development tools such as IFTTT, Microsoft Power Automate, and Zapier. Combining these tools with applications and content resources in users’ preferred work environments can lead to seamless activity automation, improved productivity, and reductions in meetings and inbox processing.

This report explains the origins and implications of the 3CA shift, provides leading 3CA vendor profiles, and concludes with recommendations for enterprise planners seeking to leverage the new 3CA opportunities.

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