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Quarterly Wrap-up

Social third quarter 2014: analysis and outlook v1.0

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Workforce-as-a-service gathers steam
  3. Why the new work chat is winning
  4. Will Microsoft join the split-ups?
  5. Near-term outlook
  6. Key takeaways
  7. About Stowe Boyd


The past quarter showed that seismic changes are rippling across the work technology world. A handful of older, larger companies are involved in split-ups: breaking into two or more companies with the explicit goal of making the smaller independent companies more nimble and competitive. Meanwhile, a great deal of investor money is streaming into startups in the workforce-as-a-service space, as those marketplace platforms disrupt and transform the way that temp, hourly, and freelance work is contracted and managed. Finally, the transition away from recently established social collaboration platforms toward lighter-weight work chat continues.

Key highlights from the third quarter in the future of work and work technologies space include:

  • Workforce-as-a-service gathers steam. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in recent months into companies like Fiverr and Thumbtack, which take different paths to offering workers for hire via marketplace platforms. Investors believe that a huge market disruption is going on, but there are considerable societal questions that have yet to be answered.
  • Why the new work chat is winning. We are continuing to track the rapid adoption of work chat technologies and the defection away from older social collaboration. The transition is caught up in the rapid rise of mobile, but also in the movement away from tools based on larger social scale to those with more narrowly defined contexts, with small networks of users that communicate frequently. There has been a flurry of development of new capabilities by established work chat vendors, and the entrée of others like Evernote to the arena.
  • Will Microsoft join the split-ups? Now that Ballmer has left the building and the board, the new CEO, Satya Nadella, is reorganizing the company around his “productivity and platforms” vision. This sounds like the first steps that Meg Whitman undertook at Hewlett-Packard over the past few years that culminated in its split into two companies. Will – and should – Microsoft follow suit?

This quarterly wrap-up analyzes these events and trends, and provides a near-term outlook for the next 18 to 24 months.

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