2013 promises to transform the way we work: in terms of space, in how we handle big data, and in what we demand from collaboration technologies.
Editor's Note: This is the second in David's three part series on Collaboration in 2013
3. Ubiquitous Video Conferencing
Video seems to be much more important in the post-PC era, it is part of the “I don’t want to miss anything” trend we are seeing. Last year we saw the rise of the “ubiquitous video end-point” with Vidtel, Vidyo, Magor and others all offering systems that could connect with any end-point, mobile, desktop, room-based, etc.
Most of the MCU’s or video bridges are in the cloud now, so you don’t have to fight with that hardware any more. Streaming video is available on most every mobile platform (depending on your broadband connection), now it is time to go to the next level and have video conferencing on every device.
Yes, I have FaceTime on my Apple mobile devices, but it is limited, and I don’t use it very much. I use most of these devices to consume content and less to generate it. Some of this is due to size (iPhone). While that is not a limitation with an iPad, very few people seem to use their iPads for video conferencing.
I see the rise of applications that make it easy to do video conferencing in one click on most any mobile device in 2013, making video conferencing finally ubiquitous!
4. Collaboration on Big Data
According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are born every day (enough to fill more than 531 million DVDs), and 90 percent of the world's digital information was produced over the last two years. With this explosion in large data sets there are many start-ups with tools to help you to deal with big data often in a visual or graphic format where it is easy to see trends and patterns (something that people are really good at).
Oracle just bought DataRaker (big data about energy and utilities) to help with this, IBM has been producing tools for Big Data for a while (but other applications like Pentaho, SAS, Tibco are also offering solutions in this area. Big Data BBQ has a list of other big data start-ups.
But there are fewer applications that let you share and manipulate the data with others. GreenPlum (a division of EMC) Chorus claims to let you collaborate with others around big data, and Entagen TripleMap also allows this (see Figure 3 for the map of Leukemia).
Figure 3: Entagen TripleMap for Leukemia
5. The Changing Workplace
I think there are five technologies that are getting ready to transform your workplace: nanotechnology, 3D printing (covered in prediction 2), heads-up displays and augmented reality, Brain-machine interface, and driverless cars.
A: Nanotechnology is the ability to build things with very, very, very small robots, so small that they can move atoms and molecules. Today these technologies are used most often in material science and wellness. How they will affect your work place is another story.
Imagine the ability to build a desk or chair to your specifications and grow it right out of the floor when you need it (see Figure 4). Or the ability to re-configure your office for whatever you are using it for; a meeting, lab workbench, video conferencing room, etc.
Figure 4: Modular Roombots self-assemble to become furniture for your sci-fi abode
B: Heads up displays and augmented reality are already in use. They have been used from everything from multi-player war games, to displays in aircraft and cars. Below we see Tom Cruise in Minority Report using a wide variety of virtual reality displays to give him information on whatever future criminal he is tracking down.
Figure 5: Information displays from Minority Report
You can find similar displays today from a company called Oblong in Southern CA.
C: Brain-Machine Interfaces: This is the ability to connect directly to your computer from your brain. I know it sounds science fiction, and you expect an evil scientist and a bad robot to show up, but we really can do it today.
Below see a picture of a woman who is a quadriplegic being able to give herself the first sip of Coke she has had in 15 years. She is doing this through a chip implanted in the motor cortex of her brain (see the little black box on top of her head with the wires coming off of it) which is controlling a robotic arm so she can sip her Coke.
Figure 6: Direct Brain Control of a Robotic Arm
You can imagine what this might do to someone working on an assembly line, or even more relevant any kind of lab or knowledge work where connecting directly to the computer would be an advantage.
I can see a future where we are connected by WiFi or BlueTooth, the brain sensor might be in a cap we wear rather than having to implant it in our brain. Though this interface we could use our iPhone or other computing device with just a thought.
An incredible productivity boost, and no evil scientist or bad robot required.
Last (but not least) is D: Driverless Cars: This is one I am looking forward to as I have those discussions with my older relatives on if they should be driving or not. I hope when I am 80, I will not have to make that choice and the cars will be able to drive themselves.
Google, which has driverless cars roaming around taking pictures for Google Earth, already has one of these cars licensed in Nevada.
Figure 7: The First Licensed Driverless Car
Although this might be a boon to aging Baby Boomers this might also allow commuters to work on their way to and from work (a 2005 study from the U.S. Census says that 77 percent of us drive to work alone).
I can imagine a world where your car drops you off at work, and you can call it whenever you need it, rather than having to take up expensive real estate by parking it. What will all those empty parking lots look like? What will they be used for?
As of January 1, 2013, three states will now license driverless cars. Governor Jerry Brown signed this law into being at Google headquarters, and California is one of the three states that now permit driverless cars. But don’t run off to get your car a driver’s license, as the California DMV has two years to figure all this new technology out and the policies to go along with it. We all know how slow (and understaffed) the DMV can be!
To show it is not just technology companies like Google that are into driverless cars, Audi announced this week at CES that it is the first car maker to get a license to test driverless cars in Nevada (and the second to get a license).
Figure 8: The Audi Autonomous test car, second license in Nevada for testing
6. The Collaborative Conversation
I believe that for the next 18 months there will be a window for change in the collaborative infrastructure in large organizations. These organizations are wiser now in the ways of collaboration, and have already paid for a SharePoint or Notes infrastructure that cost them millions yet is not delivering on the promise of collaboration that they were sold on.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are collaboration applications you can get either for free, or for very low cost (as an app for mobile) that do many of the things the collaborative infrastructure do, but they do it in the cloud, and they do it more intuitively and cheaply.
It is this knowledge of these possibilities weighed against old collaborative infrastructures that creates an opening for collaboration vendors, as the enterprise will listen to their offers, where in the past they would not. But this window will close quickly as specific collaborative solutions become more popular, and the majority and laggards jump on this bandwagon.
Editor's Note: Missed predictions one and two? 2013 Collaboration Predictions: HR Collaboration Tools, 3D Printing