Recently I traveled to Lake Tahoe to do some skiing.  I had gone once before and learned that I’m not very good at it.  I confirmed this trip that I’m still not very good at it.  If only my skiing skill improved as quickly as technology changes.  The good thing is that every time I fall I get back up and try again.  (That’s only because I didn’t break anything.) 

 

As quickly as technology is changing, so is the workplace.  Many business are automating process, enabling mobile workforces, adopting open workspaces or implementing extreme programming in order to drive collaboration.  Social networking, social media, viral marketing, etc. are all changing the way we communicate and function on the Internet and it’s transforming the way many companies conduct business.  Although most of the technology is not new, many businesses struggle at how to successfully incorporate them into day-to-day operations.  If you’re company is in this situation then it’s very similar to me skiing, you just need to get up and try again. 

 

Everything seems to be about collaboration and Web 2.0 these days.  Dial-up modems and bulletin board systems seem as ancient as dinosaurs.  I believe that understanding the evolution of the technology is key to implementing best practices and adoption.  I am very much in favor of collaborative technologies (when it comes to business) as a means to drive innovation, cohesiveness and teamwork.  Let’s look at technology… What would you say is the most widely used collaborative tool? I would say email.  Chat ranks up there as well for me.  Look at how much email has changed from Unix systems and bulletin board systems with email clients and web based emails.  Today’s email integrate calendars, tasks, contacts and even social networking, etc.

 

These days social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, etc. have created quite a buzz.  Ha… Google’s Buzz has created a buzz too.  ;)

Most major web-based email providers have integrated a form of social networking.  Email with social networking, social networking with email.  How long before Facebook will offer email addresses?  Isn’t the future about consolidation and centralization anyways? I believe the future will blur the lines between various collaborative offerings and integration will be seamless.  There is likely to be the evolution of either the browser, the email client or the desktop/OS. 

 

From bulletin board systems to messaging boards/forums to social networking sites the collaboration medium has changed, but the underlying purpose is the same.  Companies today want to integrate the “interest” focused model of such technologies into a business practical one.  What is it that companies struggle with?  Is it the people, the processes or the technologies? Did you answer “yes”? I think most companies are asking themselves, “if you build it, will they come?”

 

I don’t know how to use.

I didn’t know when to use it.

I don’t understand it.

 

Sound familiar?  I find that often the biggest challenges are user adoption which is often a result of poor process definition or user comfort.  The evolution of the workforce must have its “workforce” in mind.   Personally, I don’t want to launch a memory intensive browser, email client, chat client, task tracking tool, etc.  I rather have a one-stop shop.  I believe that alerts will play a key role and clean content will be a must.  Nobody (well, I probably shouldn’t say nobody) wants a cluttered page of information where content gets lost.

 

Where do you see the future going?  What would you like to see?  How have you seen business transform?