Like most things in this digital world, business collaboration is changing fast. Just a few years ago a video conference was a big deal: you had to book your time days in advance to sit in a purpose-built room costing tens of thousands of dollars. And chances are if you weren’t top management, you were out of luck.
Today we all have the means for an instant, high-definition conferencing solution sitting on our desk or in our pockets – and talking to a colleague, partner or client face to face feels as natural as picking up the phone.
So if things have changed that much, what will the next few years bring? Here are just a few of our predictions…
1. Smaller. Faster. Better.
We’re pretty confident about this one. New technology will do what it has always done: make things easier. As well as more capable smartphones and other handheld devices, we expect large, flexible LCD screens to emerge. They’ll give you a screen large enough for an audience of 1,000 or more people that is portable enough to fit in the overhead locker.
2. Unified Communications gets smarter
We expect the Internet of Things to help your Collaboration software know where you are and how (or whether) you want to talk. And that same software will be smart enough to pick up on what your meeting needs. So if you say ‘let’s take a look at last month’s figures’, they’ll appear on your screen – and everyone else’s – automatically.
3. The user is king. And queen.
True digital natives aren’t just joining the workforce – they’re already getting into decision-making roles. They know what they want – and it isn’t the old, inflexible corporate solutions too many of us have had to battle with for decades. These guys and girls will use what works for them/ IT teams have to stay ahead of the game, offering intuitive, smart solutions that offer benefits, not barriers.
4. Looking forward might mean looking backwards.
Visit any coffee shop, business lounge or train these days and you’ll see that working out of the office or working from home isn’t the only choice. Companies around the world are encouraging people to work where suits them best. For some jobs that might be a good, old-fashioned office environment. But whatever balance between office, home and on the road working people eventually reach, they’ll all benefit from collaboration tools flexible enough to bring them together when they need it.
5. We don’t know anything.
Well, we know one thing: the future never looks quite like you imagine. The technologies we know today will become commoditized and will eventually be superseded, replaced by something better. Our responsibility is to stay open to change, watch it happen and be ready to change with it. That’s what keeps business exciting!