When we talk about connected enterprises and interconnected and interdepent employees, it’s hard for many people to imagine this kind of reality, to visualize what it may look like in their day to day job.
That’s not a suprise. Just try to think like anybody who’s been using for at least ten years three communication modes : face to face meetings, phone and email. This person may not know any other way to communicate, even in his private life. Then try to feel what they feel when they hear about permanent interconnection, mobility, information as flows, personal informational supply chain. It’s in some way like explaining Graham Bell what the iPhone is. Add to that that this person may only know one way to communicate : one person decides to communicate something to another which is forced to receive it. In brief a world with only three kind of channels where we have to choice between seeking someone or being seeked by someone.
In order to understand the whole field of what’s possible in this area, it’s important to know how our desktop will look like in the upcoming times. By “desktop” I mean our computer’s one, indeed our mobile devices’
Imagine you desk phone. Then your mobile. Your mail client. Your intranet and its “many to many” collaboration and exchange spaces. Your directory. Your instant messager. Your RSS reader (for those who are allowed to use this deviant technology within the workspace). Let’s be crazy : also add you internal social network, blogs, wikis… And imagine you can use all that at the same time, in the same interface.
You think it will give you headaches ? On the contrary, it’s a cure for current headhaches.
One major barrier to people’s immersion in a world of exchanges, of flows is the disparate nature of tools in the one hand and the few interactions they make possible with other people and information according to everyone’s needs in a perfect world in a “perfect world” in the other hand. And because this often turn immersion into drowning, nobody can imagine being comfortable in an ocean of information.
Now imagine all the tools I mentioned above being gathered and integrated in an unique one. It allows to :
– link information and people : I fid something interesting, I get its author too. I find an expert, I get what he published;
– manage priorities and efficiency : an efficient plumbing as described here allows not to drown anymore in an information whirlpool but to separate out the information I’m sent from the information I need, and to prioritize each of them. I’m now managing information according to my needs rather than being affected by it.
– chose the right channels for the right messages : switching from one tool to another is a real waste of time. But, in the same interface, having the choice of publishing a public / private / restricted note, send a sms, an IM, release phone call…changes everything. It also implies that any “coming signal” will be filed according to my own criteras but accessible from an unique place.
In brief, the communication channels we’ve been using for years, even decades, will merge with into software plateforms little by little and in a few years they’ll be a one and only entity. At this time we will forget tools and focus on what they make possible. We’ll communicate instead of using something.
Do you think I’m talking about a very very far future ? It may come sooner than you think. Under the barbaric name of “unified communication” many software vendors and communication industry leaders join their forces in order to offer a sophisticated integration of their services.
Saying that, we can really think of building tomorrow’s ways of working not thinking in terms of tools but according to the fact they will break many barriers down.
This issue is becoming really hot and it’s easy to find related contents on the web. Closer to us, it’s a subject that will be discussed at the next web 2.0 expo in Berlin with, notably, the presence of JP Rangaswami from British Telecom who’ll explain how traditional phone capabilities must not remain isolated channels and have to become integrated into softwares.
Once it will be done, people, information, voice, writing will be able to share the same spaces and people won’t see their activities being dismembered according to the tool they use.
By the way, if you want to attend the expo, you can get a 35% discount code here.