On January 14th Merci Victoria Grace, an investor at https://lsvp.com/, published a market map of workplace collaboration startups. 

It is a well thought out map and I agree with most of the categories included. Nonetheless, I want to add a Data category, and here is my opinion on why I think it should be included in this map:

According to Kissflow “Workplace collaboration is a group of people sharing skills and ideas to achieve a common goal together. Group members brainstorm ideas to solve a problem or to produce something as a team, seeing the goal through to completion or resolution.”

For many years, startups have been the prime example of how organizations should work. Teams of multidisciplinary professionals working together to achieve a common goal. Although somewhat late to the party, big companies also started adopting this way of work that many called “Agile”. Even Bain & Company started to offer a consultancy on Agile. According to Bain “The fundamentals of Agile are simple. To tackle an opportunity, the organization forms and empowers a small, focused, cross-functional, self-managing team.” 

One would assume tools that improve our ability to communicate like messaging, video and productivity are a natural thing, and that they showed up fast. The reason for this is that as teams were distributed, companies had to solve the most primary needs to be able to build together and accomplish goals when faced with collaboration. Although data was a fundamental part of our human development, it is fairly new as a science in the business world. That, however, makes it no less important.

As data becomes an organization's central core, and due to the world's increased complexity and hyper competition, teams need to be able to work around data. According to Deloitte, “teams that have a strong analytics culture significantly exceeded their business goals in the past 12 months”. But believe it or not, data is dividing us.

Only 0.000004% of human beings know how to read, organize and use data. Data is dividing us into elites.

Companies install on average 920 cloud services. Different tools for every business unit. Dividing teams and data into silos. According to Deloitte, “Sixty percent of companies in the survey that use different tools and systems across different teams or business units exceeded their goals last year. But among a much smaller group—the 26 percent that use a single, common set of tools and methods across the enterprise for accessing and analyzing data—an impressive 80 percent exceeded their business goals last year”.

Even more unfortunate, data is divided between the “lab world” and the “real world”. According to Forbes, “tools, data, and practices of the data science organization are not the same tools, data, and practices of the operationalization organization. These organizations often work with their own proprietary tools, such as data notebooks and data science-oriented tools on the data science side during the training phase, and runtime environments, big data infrastructure, and IDE-based development ecosystems on the operations side. There’s no easy bridging of these technologies and so what happens is a struggle to make the transition from the training phase in the laboratory to the inference phase in the real world”. 

Improving our primary needs like communication through video, chat and project management tools is key to workplace collaboration, but for teams to really be able to exceed their business goals in an era of extreme competition, they need to collaborate with data in a far more effective way.

New research states that failure to share data correlates with diminished business success. This means that data collaboration is a key aspect every company is overlooking. For this reason, we need to create new tools that avoid divisions across teams. This is becoming even more important as companies become more distributed.

In the future, my vision is that “Agile” teams work together around a single data workspace to give them the advantage they need in today’s business world, along with tools like Slack, Asana, Tandem and others, to improve their communication and collaboration.