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.

In the meantime, I am beginning to see much of the supply chain being disintermediated by 3D printing. What does your supply chain look like when you don’t have to store and ship materials (shirts, shoes, even guns) but can produce the object not only at the point of sale, but customized for the buyer (more on this in my 2013 predictions).

6. BYOD: The Changing Nature of Video Processing

Many of today’s newer video conferencing tools like Vidtel, Vidyo and Magor all claim to work with any end point. It can be a room-based Polycom system, or your iPhone; they all work with these software tools. This is a very powerful argument for video which I have not seen before, and takes much of the complexity out of the process, which is one of the things that have been holding it back. I think there will be more video than ever in 2013, so I would say that I got this one right last year also.

7. The Consumerization of Project/Task Management

We have seen an explosion in task management tools. There are tools to just track and manage tasks (Producteev) and then there are tools to ask that tasks be done (TaskRabbit).

Producteev was just acquired by Jive, there is now Google tasks. And if you look in the Google apps marketplace you can see both project management (MavenLink, Wrike, Zoho Projects, Podio, etc.) and task management tools (Do, Pivotal Tracker, and RapidTask) abound.

All of this proves I was correct and more of these tools are being made as light-weight tools, ready for mobile, with less overhead and more in a consumer style, but keeping the major functions of project and task management.

8. The Rise of the Collaborative Frankenstein

Last year I wrote about SalesForce, VMware, Jive and others who were putting together collaborative functions (acquired) to create something of a collaborative Frankenstein ( “a piece from this body, a piece from that body, but the head is abinormal…” Young Frankenstein). VMware brought Zimbra, SlideRocket and SocialCast, Jive just acquired Producteev and Meetings.io, and Salesforce (Chatter, Dim Dim and Do) and others continue to acquire additional collaboration functionality in 2013.

However, I think while these larger companies move along this path, the more nimble start-ups will take another path (more in my 2013 predictions). So this one was also a prediction I got right.

9. Vertical not Horizontal Collaboration

With 2000 solutions in the collaboration market, and all the big players having one type of solution or another it is very hard for new horizontal tools to enter this market successfully.

People today are a bit wiser, they were sold SharePoint and Notes in the past and are a bit guy shy of large overhead collaborative infrastructures. Part of the reason is that these infrastructures are not meeting their collaborative needs.

However, if you start to look at vertical (i.e. industry focused) and look at processes rather than departments or groups, you start to have a chance to not only make an impact where the value is clearly seen, but you also start to get more rapid rates of adoption. I saw a few examples of this in 2012 where some horizontal vendors went vertical/process and were able to charge 10 times the cost for the horizontal solution with no push-back.

10. Smarter Social CIOs

There seem to be two types of CIOs: one is forward looking and the other is backward looking. The role of IT is changing rapidly, and much of what IT used to be doing is being done by cloud-based vendors or services.

In 2009 we did a survey that showed that only 40 percent of management had any idea what “Social business” was, or if they were a “Social Enterprise.” These days that percentage is much higher, with many in the C-suite saying “we must be social… our XYZ competitor is now social!” So CIOs have to decide on new trade-offs; more about this in my 2013 predictions. I would say I also got this trend and prediction correct.


It looks like my crystal ball worked pretty well last year. I was at 90 percent for the collaboration trends I predicted in 2012. I really did not see anything surprising this year, but I do see some things that are leading to new trends for collaboration in 2013.

Editor's Note: Curious to read what else David had to say about the collaborative space in 2012? Then try The Collaborative Circus