According to Gartner - “Deployment of workstream collaboration tools has accelerated due to remote work dynamics fueled by COVID-19.”
That is the opening line of the 2021 Gartner Market Guide for Workstream Collaboration (WSC) .
It should come as no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitalization of the workplace, but that’s not all - 2021 has also been the year when we saw the sunsetting of Skype for Business and the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce. Furthermore, as adoption of workstream collaboration tools increased, we watched more and more customer-facing roles starting to rely on it for real-time communication with partners and customers. As a result, this is a market that’s now forecasted to grow to $6.5 billion by 2024.
In its report, Gartner defines the market for Workstream Collaboration (WSC) as “products that deliver a conversational workspace based on persistent chat divided into channels. WSC tools commonly include real-time meeting capabilities and basic file sharing, and some also include basic task coordination. Products in this market are intentionally designed to be extended via APIs, bots or other integration methods to support advanced functionality.” 
At Rocket.Chat, we’re proud to be included as a Representative Vendor in the 2021 Gartner Market Guide for Workstream Collaboration.
Our 12M+ users in over 150 countries have, for years, trusted us to bring data privacy, security and ownership into all of their real-time business conversations - we’re thrilled to see this category cement its position as a foundational technology for businesses around the world.
While the market for Workstream Collaboration software in 2021 is already well matured in terms of everyday projects, meetings, content and teamwork, there are still largely underserved or emerging use cases that, alongside the events listed above, contribute to the estimated growth in market value:
1. The Increasing Need for Data Privacy, Security & Ownership
Companies in highly regulated industries as well as those handling sensitive customer or business information, such as financial services, government & defense, legal, healthcare and education, require higher standards for data privacy, security and ownership.
These requirements include capabilities such as on-premise deployments (sometimes even air-gapped deployments) as opposed to cloud, end-to-end encryption and unique compliance requirements that can only be met by a heavily customizable platform. According to Gartner:
“Products in this market are primarily deployed as cloud services although support for other deployment configurations is available from some providers (on-premises, private hosted or hybrid combinations).” 
Gartner also states that “situational solutions will focus more deeply into specific needs of industry-specific use cases such as financial services, healthcare or other verticals.”  Clearly as the market progresses, platform flexibility and a focus on specific verticals are a valid differentiation factor for vendors in this space.
Additionally, the Market Guide for Workstream Communication states: “As reliance on WSC tools increases, other strategic concerns, especially information governance and content services, become a higher priority.” 
In our view, this is very well aligned with where Rocket.Chat customers see real business value, which is highlighted in detail in this success story with Audi Business Innovation.
2. Cross-Platform Federation Still Untapped
Gmail lets you email people on Hotmail. Imagine if Workstream Collaboration platforms (WSC) allowed you to message people on other WSC platforms; essentially prioritizing collaboration over vendor choices. This means real-time chat, file sharing and collaboration with partners, vendors, suppliers, or any other external organization, regardless of the WSC platform they choose to use.
While cross-company collaboration has already been explored in the WSC market, cross-platform collaboration is still relatively underserved and, when combined with data privacy, security and ownership, opens up a wide range of new possibilities for this market to further develop.
3. Advanced Real-Time Customer Support
According to the 2021 Gartner Market Guide for Workstream Collaboration:
“Non-cloud-office-suite WSC tools are also considered for certain external use cases that involve customers or business partners.
Our expectations as employees and consumers are at an all-time high. We expect fluent, real-time interactions with the people we work - in our professional lives - as well as the brands we fall in love with - in our personal lives. We don’t suddenly become someone else when we ‘walk into the office’ (or whichever type of hybrid, remote work experience we now have).
In alignment with the above, we’ve observed a trend where customer-facing roles such as sales and support are also turning to workstream collaboration platforms to provide a better, unified customer experience. To us, this new (and massive) use case largely explains the forecasted growth for the Workstream Collaboration market in the next 5 years; and what an exciting space it is to be in.
In my role as VP of Marketing of a workstream collaboration platform, I’m immersed every single day in just about everything covered in this report by Mike Gotta. In an environment as complex and ever-evolving as the digital workplace, I believe this market guide provides a solid framework that can help both, vendors and buyers, drive businesses forward. In our opinion, it is a fundamental resource for companies looking to identify evaluation criteria, shortlist vendors and ensure a strong ROI.
 Gartner, “Market Guide for Workstream Collaboration”, Mike Gotta, 30 March 2021
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