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Alfresco CTO: Intelligent, Adaptable, Amazing Tech Ahead

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John Newton has a vision of what technology and enterprise collaboration will look like in 2024. 

Trust these future goggles. They've got plenty of experience. Newton is the CTO and chairman of Alfresco, an open source enterprise content management provider. But back in 1990, he co-founded, designed and led the development of Documentum, which was later acquired by EMC.

"Assuming that it continues on more or less the pace it has so far, and there’s no reason not to think that, there is some amazing stuff that’s possible," Newton told CMSWire in a phone interview from the AIIM Conference this month, where he spoke. "Extremely high resolution displays. Virtual reality types of devices. New ways of inputting into computers. A lot of wearable technology that will go beyond the consumer stuff and actually make systems more usable for us."

Unlimited Powers

Newton looks at it this way: take a laptop in 2004 compared to now and what you get for the same money. Further, you can get even more computing power from the cloud using elastic cloud capabilities.

"You should almost have unlimited processing power," Newton said.

What can you do with that unlimited processing power? Machines and artificial intelligence can be set up to to do some "amazing stuff."

"It can recognize what you’re talking about and do active searches based upon its understanding of what you're doing and actually make some inference as to what might be applicable to your current situation," Newton said. "The environment for an information author actually becomes more proactive and much more helpful. It can actually capture every single key stroke, cut and paste and the nature of its origins. It extrapolates it all out."

This leads, Newton said, to a much more interesting piece of content. And the people managing the process can be made aware of where should they be concentrating.

Human Factor

Technology will continue to play a role in the coming years for enterprises, but our understanding of the brain and how the mind works and what "easy" actually means will be important to capture.

social business, Alfresco CTO on Technology and Collaboration 10 Years Later

"Software will be much more adaptable to the way we actually work and will be aware of our moods and what might be applicable for us," Newton said. "The notion of search becomes much more intelligent in that environment and makes it much more easier to find information. We all make good guesses in software now in terms of what might work … but I think we’ll know far more about how our brain reacts to software and be able to design more effective software as well."

Becoming Less Distracted

Software of the future should make the enterprise workforce less distracted, Newton hopes.

"Make us more focused on our jobs," he said.

Newton said he heard a lot of feedback at last week's AIIM Conference how SharePoint is hard to use and "why can't it be more like Microsoft Messenger?"

Newton said it may be more of a case of workers in the enterprise being too distracted. The worker today has about a 30-second attention span, he said, and fears he'll always miss something. Some AIIM Conference attendees lamented about the overabundance of enterprise tools and their difficulty.

Make it Simple

Collaboration tools, Newton said, have to be simpler.

"Some are way too complicated," he added. "Simple is really really important in collaboration. Just make it straightforward. What is the purpose of the collaboration? And it's about making it easy for the right participants to get involved. One of the challenges companies have is internal to external collaboration. It's a big problem people want to solve."

Further, keep the tool organized. Make it easy to be able to find things. It doesn't need to be a human process. It can be an automated one as well.

Internet of Things Enters Picture

Businesses are starting to look toward the Internet of Things to drive business processes and decisions. Devices themselves are becoming part of the business processes, Newton said.

It's a new way of thinking when it comes to building applications.

"We just don’t go to IBM anymore and order a bunch of the same old stuff," Newton said. "People are looking into open source starting with Hadoop but they're also looking at a bunch of other things as well as business process and content. These hi-tech companies as they build out in the Internet of Things are redefining the way they do business, and collaboration is a big part of that."

 
 
 
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