Social Business, Collaboration in 2014: 10 PredictionsNetworked organizations, personalization and customization, development of collaborative reputations: these trends and more that I predicted for 2013 will still hold true for 2014. But as the cloud and mobile mature, new trends are emerging for 2014. Kelly Services and oDesk just did a deal together -- I think this is the first time an old style temp agency has done a deal with a crowdsourcing / expertise company. Kind of like the lamb lying down with the lion, something you don’t expect to see. But we should expect more of this as markets consolidate, the IoT goes more mainstream and we see collaboration become an important part of big data.

Collaboration is still a critical issue with many CEO’s -- see what mistakes you should avoid in the Dan Rasmus article, The 10 Worst IT Collaboration Offenses.

1. The Internet of Things Goes Collaborative

Some recent articles I wrote for CMSWire (Collaboration and the IoT and Emerging Platforms and Applications for the IoT) explored this topic. It is clear that with more and smaller sensors becoming available, more and more devices are being connected to the Internet. Cisco, who recently formed a division to look at IoT (as part of their Internet of Everything project) noted that the IoE would drive $14.4T in revenues by 2020 (when IDC, Cisco, and Ericsson all estimate there will be 50 billion connected devices -- roughly five devices / things for each person alive on the planet). These "context-aware" environments are giving businesses better insight into their customers by providing useful historical information -- such as documents and past interactions -- that can be relevant to teams working together.

2. Consumer and Enterprise Merge

Cloud 1.0 brought us SaaS-based tools and services. Although they are easier to use, and often (much) less expensive than legacy systems, they too are being disintermediated by companies like Amazon. is the poster child for Cloud 1.0, however, they are subscription-based and they like to lock customers into a yearly contract, much the way legacy system vendors did.

This shift to the cloud has made legacy vendors in the collaboration space, like SharePoint and IBM Connections miss recent revenue targets and it is testing the limits of subscription pricing that Salesforce and others use.

The consumer trend of “pay-to-play” or paying for what you use, is again shifting the business model for enterprise software to be more like consumer software. Consumers bring these pricing expectations with them to the enterprise along with the devices. Many vendors are catching on and doing “mobile first” development practices, and in many cases a few dollars for an app is a buying structure that is easy, and should last into a future where pay-for-use pricing becomes dominant.

3. Trust is No Longer the Basis for Collaboration

After Edward Snowden leaked the common spying practices of the NSA, we all began to realize that no one was safe from being spied upon, that privacy was an illusion we are holding dear while we are in denial. Throw in “identity” and “security” and with more sophisticated malware attacks (like man-in-the-middle) it is hard to know who you are talking to and who is listening.

In an environment like this, trust is a rare gift. Add on the complexities of context (e.g., personal context, company context, team or project context, country context) and trust is not the foundation for collaboration it used to be -- that foundation is eroding away. So what is replacing it? Things like constant connection, community and Flash Teams are some of the ways I see collaborative or social work changing. The Millenials are used to posting a question to a community and then weighing the answers they get. These would be hard to fake, as the answers come from many different sources within the community.

4. Augmented Collaboration

I once said that when the virtual environment that gives the user more information than possible in a face-to-face meeting becomes reality, we would start to see wider adoption of these technologies. At that time I looked at meeting rooms that had sensors to detect heat fluctuations, signaling mood changes in a person. Real time transcription would become the norm, showing a running document of the meeting. 

These were just research projects a few years ago. Cisco’s idea is to “bring together floor-to-ceiling high-definition video collaboration, shared whiteboards, shared documents and resources and voice control, creating Augmented Collaboration.” Other tools I have seen to help meetings improve include: (helps before and after the meeting), Fingertip (decision support for meetings) and Meeting Maker. These recent startups are capitalizing on the rise of context value. Another cool tool I saw recently is Oblong’s Mezzanine --  a multiscreen video conferencing tool with the ability to move any object from any screen to another screen.

5. WebRTC Will Play a Greater Role in Browser-Based Collaboration 

Although not yet ratified as a standard, WebRTC has the advantage of running in a browser and not requiring any download for audio or video conferencing. Unfortunately there is not yet a mechanism for screen sharing, but as Google put the original code into Open Source, WebRTC is evolving quickly.