Connectivity, customization and collaborative reputation are just a few of the forces that will change the way we work in 2013.

Editor's Note: This is the final in David Coleman's three article series on Collaboration in 2013

7. Everything is Connected

Although this is apparent to me, I guess it is not to everyone. I mean this in both a philosophical sense (we are all connected to each other) and a literal sense, where nano-sensors are on pretty much everything and they are all broadcasting data at you.

Not only can this be overwhelming, but it also brings into question the idea of identity and certainly gives privacy and security officers new things to worry about. You would always know what inventory is in stock and where it is, you would know where everyone you work with is, and if given access, what they are doing.

Think of it as an activity stream with not only people but things! We see some of the early steps in this direction today with the Internet and mobile devices, but things (all sorts of things) will become more connected. Imagine a jacket that scans your body when you put it on, and can relay the data to your doctor, so if something is wrong we know about it right away, and then can use specially programmed nano-bots to correct the damage.

If you think you are overloaded with information and people today, just wait until tomorrow. A number of years ago Robin Dunbar, a sociologist, stated that the human brain can only deal with between 12 to 150 relationships at a time. Yes, I know you have 5,000 Facebook friends, but how many are actually relationships rather than acquaintances or people you just know?

Adding to this overwhelm is the fact that smart devices will be trying to get your attention in the very near future, and you can start to imagine the amount of information, relationships and connects you will be asked to process. Just as Iron Man has “Jarvism” a master program (with a voice as well as gestural interface) to help him deal with everything else, we too will need a Jarvis or maybe Siri in the near future to help us with all these connections!

8. The Networked Organization

More and more I see companies struggling to get the best talent and to keep them. There is nothing more important to a business than a great employee. But with only 3 percent of Baby Boomers left in the workforce, those just coming into the workforce have very different expectations about work.

Often they will work as an employee for a while, and then go out on their own after acquiring some experience and expertise. Because we are so connected, they soon find others like themselves and form an entity (a small business). To keep ahead of the competition they may focus on something very specific, but be the best in the world at it (creating CAD drawings and instructions for a 3D printer to print out a more efficient part). These groups tend to from around a core business like satellites (see Figure 9).


The core of the company may only be comprised of a few hundred people including management, marketing, maybe operations or R&D, but everything else can be outsourced to these satellite service entities that have long-term relationships with the core organization.

I do this today: I have an accountant, a lawyer and colleagues I can call on when I need their particular expertise. This will require better external (outside the core) collaboration software, sometimes optimized for the process the satellite organization is part of.

9. Personalization and Customization

Henry Ford was once quoted as saying “sure, you can have any color car you like… as long as it is black.” That was the industrial revolution, where everyone got the same thing and businesses were made on economies of scale.

Today just the opposite is true, no one wants to be the same, they all want to proclaim their individuality. Look at the stickers on people’s laptops or the popularity of tattoos. They all are meant to say "I want to be a bit different," "I am an individual" (and often convey some content information about them i.e. they ride a Harley Davidson).