Cotap v2.0 shows where work chat is headed

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I’ve written a lot about the rapid transition toward contextual conversation tools (chat-based collaboration) in business. In June, we published Contextual conversation: Work chat will dominate collaboration, where I wrote

This rise of these contextual-conversation tools will affect the enterprise-collaboration space in a number of ways

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Networks of smaller groups are the most natural, effective form factor for work communication and collaboration. Contextual-conversation tools support this better and layer onto other applications in a less intrusive way than email or broadcast communication tools. This will hasten the decline of traditional collaboration tools.

Last week Cotap released v2.0 of its contextual conversation, and it represents a great example of the trend.

Cotap now has mobile, web, and desktop clients, so when working at the desktop  users can remain connected to networks of colleagues. Mac OS X client is available now.

Most critically, Cotap supports close integration with file sync-and-share leaders Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Users can connect to one or more at the same time.

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Cotap has added People and Group Directories, making it easier to connect with people. The People Directory autopopulates with others with the same corporate email domain, making that easy. A user’s most active contacts and groups can be pinned to the top of the directory list making it fast to connect.

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Cotap — which has raised $15.5 million in venture funding — now has 10,000 companies using its products. And with this release the company shows that it is working hard to become a real competitor to other work chat tools, like Slack, HipChat, and Flowdock.

I argued in the Contextual Conversation report that adoption of work chat tools like Cotap will have an impact on the adoption of more traditional enterprise social network apps, like Salesforce’s Communities, Jive, and Microsoft’s Yammer. By the end of this year, those now-conventional collaboration platforms will feel out-of-date. Notice that Cisco retired Webex Social (formerly Quad) as a result in declining sales, and Jive has unsuccessfully shopped itself to many potential acquirers as a result of declining growth and mounting losses.

Microsoft has bundled Yammer into its push for Office 365 and modernization of Sharepoint, and Salesforce is taking a similar tack with bundling Chatter into Community Cloud (see Salesforce Communities renamed Salesforce1 Community Cloud), but both are treating the chat-like capabilities of Yammer and Chatter as loss leaders, to hold onto customers.

But I think the future lies with the nimble, lightweight, and contextually-focused work chat tools, like Cotap, that started out as mobile first, and which are better suited to the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce.

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