I am planning toward some major changes in 2005, with the essential idea being the delivery of published research analyzing the next waves of collaboration technology and its role in enhancing team productivity. I’ll be working with vendors on their product strategy, and with enterprise customers on their strategies around selecting, implementing and deploying such technologies.
Here’s my “top 5” list for things to watch out for in 2005.
1. What Becomes of Presence. Presence and availability – dual concepts focused on advising others when someone else is online and available for communication – is still largely tied to IM clients. Some vendors are integrating the ideas into email clients and collaborative workspace offerings. But the bigger question is whether presence can play a role in the enterprise beyond mere visual display, and be used in business applications for adjusting business logic and workflow routing decisions in appropriate situations.
2. Collaboration Auto-Discovery. The key idea of collaboration auto-discovery is the identification of other people in the enterprise who share common interests and professional passions, based in part on a proactive analysis of the email they send, the IM conversations they engage in, and the documents they author and read. Once those common interests are identified, there is a range of notification methods for informing others about that commonality. This is largely an un-tapped area in the enterprise, although services like Feedster are showing the power of it at a global level. Tacit Software immediately comes to mind as a top-tier player in this space, and I’m looking forward to the third release of its ActiveNet product in 1Q2005.
3. New Integrated Collaboration Environments. Email, IM, RSS, collaborative workspaces and other collaboration tools are not integrated for the benefit of the end user. The tools are mostly separate and standalone, and any integration results from the user doing it themselves. As I outlined in my white paper on Collaboration Software Clients, there are common capabilities and features between the products, and a re-integration of these for the benefit of the user is necessary. Open Text's Livelink TouchPoint is on my radar for investigation early in 2005.
4. Maturation of RSS. RSS has provided a simple and effective way of keeping abreast of changes in Web sites and weblogs. The big question going into 2005 is whether it can broaden its role into an enterprise-class standard for delivering notifications from enterprise systems and databases without clogging internal and external networks unnecessarily. Added with that, is the question of whether RSS is up to the task, or whether an MSS (“mostly simple syndication”) or RCS (“really complex syndication”) standard is needed instead.
5. Microsoft’s Collaboration Roadmap. Yup, as I’ve already said, it doesn’t have one and it needs one. Perhaps 2005 is the year when such things will be clearly communicated.