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2012 Predictions on Collaboration Reviewed: How Did I Do?

If anything, the pace of change from technology is speeding up. So how will 2013 be different than 2012? Here is a list of my 10 predictions for 2012; what did I get right and where did I go wrong?

1. Broken Meetings are Changing

I would say I was correct on this, more meeting are moving to virtual workspaces, they have better tools and new meta-meeting tools like Meetin.gs. Less meetings are happening! More people are meeting or interacting inside of social networks or collaborative workspaces.

Hopefully we will see the number of face to face meetings decrease in 2013 (like email, they will never go away). I see this happening when the meeting tools are both easier and more powerful i.e., you could get more information in a virtual meeting about the others in the meeting than you would face to face. If this were to happen, we would see less face to face meetings and people would start to let go of that as the only meeting paradigm.

2. From Teams to Crowds?

I would say yes on this one. In the last year we have seen a huge jump in new projects that were crowd funded on Kickstarter (and many others like it). I have also seen an increase in micro work and even the number of services like TaskRabbit, where someone in the crowd will do stuff for you (locally). I recently used MobileWorks to clean up an 8000 person contact list for me (micro work).

3. Public Clouds, Private Clouds, Collaborative Clouds

We have seen a proliferation of different types of clouds, even “hybrid clouds” in the last year, and it is clear that most collaboration vendors have moved their software to the cloud (some still do on-premises for a variety of reasons and regulations), but does this help make it a “Collaborative Cloud?” Not really!

A collaborative cloud is a private cloud that can include people from inside and outside the organization working together in a virtual, secure workspace. Vendors just doing file storage and sync like Box are moving into this space with Box Project Collaboration and even Evernote has created Evernote Business (announced recently at LeWeb) which is supposed to be more of a collaborative tool (although I think it is just publishing workbooks so other can see them).

These show that many vendors are moving in this direction. They would not be moving this way if their customers were not asking for something like this, so I expect we will see even more of collaborative clouds in 2013.

4. The Nature of Work is Changing

I would say I was very right on this one. I gave a talk a few months ago called “The Secret Future of Work: 5 Technologies that will transform your Workplace” and I had over 1000 people sign up for the webinar. After the webinar I got lots of feedback and questions which clearly shows me that the nature of work is changing rapidly (due to technology advance, but also due to changes in organizational structures, and a new digital native generation in the workplace).

Tele-working is growing slowly, but this growth may be masked by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule from managers at larger companies. Certainly the tools are getting better, and the need to be in the office (for knowledge workers) is less.

However, I have seen a trend in un-distributing software development teams. Many managers believe that the team (usually less than 10 people) works better and is more productive if they all sit together. The opposite argument is that it is very hard to get the best talent in one place, and if you want the best, you have to be flexible and find ways to make distributed teams more effective. I would say I got this one right, and was maybe even a bit conservative.

5. Re-inventing the Collaborative Supply Chain

“Big ships turn slowly.” I think this was a bit of wishful thinking on my part.

I think this will happen over time, and there clearly is a big opportunity in a process as siloed as supply chain. But I think it will be a few more years before something like this gets momentum.

In the mean time, technologies like 3D printing have the ability to wipe out most of the supply chain, or at least simplify it dramatically. So I think I missed on this one, it will probably take years before all the silos in this process are fixed.

 

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