With 2011 around the corner, it’s prediction time. So when I think about next year, I’m going with three off-the-beaten-path predictions that have serious implications for the way work gets done.
Prediction #1: You'll Still Hate Email
I've yet to meet a person that says "You know what I really need? More email. If only I could get more email, my job would be so much better."
You know who doesn't hate email? Teenagers. But that’s because they ignore that it even exists. Yet these masters-of-constant-conversation have somehow discovered a way to communicate that actually works.
Instead of sending an email, they post on Facebook. All their friends can read it at once. Comment on it. Share it. Like it. Add to it.
If a thirteen year old can figure this out, why is business still using the digital pony express?
Much to my chagrin, we're not going to see the end of email in 2011. But there are big companies putting big dents in their email use. Today. As Social Business software gains broader adoption in 2011, that trend is only going to accelerate.
Prediction #2: Your Printer is Headed for the Retirement Home
Don't panic -- you can keep your photo printer. But that big beast down the hall from your office -- its best days are long gone.
Sure, most businesses are far from paperless. But the majority of internal documents and communications we've read over the last few years weren't on a printed page. Digital won out because it was more convenient and immediate. But it was still largely just print, albeit on a screen.
Not anymore. Pick up an iPad and play with Flipboard, tap through the Twitter app, or read an interactive magazine. It's no longer just print on a screen.
Digital consumption of content opens up incredible possibilities for the way we communicate and collaborate. Instead of rigidly structured documents stored in rigid repositories, you get highlighted interactive information living in fluid documents. Instead of being relegated to tracked-changes, conversation keeps documents alive and relevant.
Why, then, are most business documents written in Microsoft Word? It’s a program built to make it easy for the average knowledge worker to whip up a document equally as awesome as the ones the typing pool could crank out on their IBM Selectric typewriters.
My bet? The future of business documents is more iPad than IBM Selectric. But I'm prone to crazy gambles.
Prediction #3: You'll Continue Cheating on IT
Admit it. You're cheating on IT. You've got a rogue file sharing account. And your department uses a project management site you hope IT never sees. You rationalize "they forced me away." They just couldn't meet your needs. You would stick with them, but they don't have time for you. You don't blame them; they've got a lot going on. But the Internet made it so easy -- it just took a couple clicks and an expense report.
Yeah, this trend is going to continue. There are just too many unmet business needs, and it's too easy to find incredibly useful software and services on the Internet.
Businesses that love wasting time will try to block the spread of unsanctioned apps.
Smart businesses will pour fuel on the fire. They’ll cheat the rules of traditional IT.
They’ll make it easier to find and install apps. They’ll set up enterprise app stores. They'll make the best of the web available (fully vetted, of course) and start building their own light-weight but incredibly useful apps.
They’ll let business users find apps for specific tasks -- apps that don’t require contracts and deployment teams and desktop updates. They’ll let users leave behind the soul-sucking reality of most enterprise software and use apps that actually inspire creativity and innovation.
That’s the 2011 I’m looking forward to. The year business gets social.