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Six Predictions for Cloud Collaboration in 2013

As we move into 2013 and attempt a glance further into the future, we see shifts in the conversation around cloud collaboration. I’ve outlined a few thoughts on what we can expect soon, over the course of the next few years, and in the future.

In 2013, we’ll see the cloud conversation shift to flexibility and agility as primary drivers of adoption.

“Businesses will have to provide an environment in which their employees are connected in ways they have never been connected before.”

As more companies understand the problems that arise in the collection of big data and the number of employees who work outside the office increases, cloud adoption will grow exponentially. Gartner data shows 71 percent of businesses adopted Software as a Service (SaaS) within the past three years, with three quarters of businesses planning on increasing SaaS spending. However, the reason companies increasingly invest in SaaS will shift. As a recent Forrester survey shows, a decreasing number of businesses are prioritizing lower costs as a reason to adopt SaaS, while an increasing number of businesses are focusing on “business agility” as a reason to deploy a SaaS solution.

In order to compete effectively in the future, businesses will have to provide an environment in which their employees are connected in ways they have never been connected before – connecting employees to customers, partners, and suppliers real time, anytime, anywhere, and providing context to these collaborative sessions.  This can only be accomplished through leveraging an increasing set of collaborative technology, and exposing the most relevant data across the traditional mediums of voice, video, and chat. Cloud accelerates the roll-out of this technology consistently across entire companies and their business partners, so they can improve the efficiency of their decision-making and the quality of their customers’ experience. As the cloud and macroeconomic factors increase the speed of business and collaboration, businesses will look to the cloud to as a means to deploy the growing set of integrated collaborative tools and gain a competitive edge.

As cloud collaboration moves beyond early adopters in 2013, hybrid models will proliferate and customers will increasingly demand a seamless, uncompromising user experience between the cloud and the customer premises.

“More than 50 percent of enterprises began cloud migrations in 2011.”

Increasingly, businesses will look to a world of many clouds where some services are hosted on private clouds for policy/regulatory compliance or balance sheet reasons while others are hosted by public-cloud providers. Businesses will move to find a right balance between the two with hybrid cloud models. More than 50 percent of enterprises began cloud migrations in 2011 and at least 12 percent of all enterprise workloads will run on clouds (public, private, hybrid, community) globally by 2013.

In 2013, cloud delivery of video will enable a cost paradigm shift leading to acceleration of adoption of pervasive, any-to-any video conferencing.

“Deploying these advancements in the cloud will allow us to make any-to-any video connections between mobile, personal and room-based systems.”

Historically three key factors prevented widespread adoption of video: high infrastructure and endpoint costs, consistent quality of experience and lack of interoperability between systems. In 2013 we will see advances across all three of these challenges, particularly in software capabilities that will dramatically lower infrastructure and endpoint costs.  Deploying these advancements in the cloud will allow us to make any-to-any video connections between mobile, personal and room-based systems while optimally allocating resources depending on the endpoint, resulting in significantly lower costs and higher quality.  This will enable businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the power of video collaboration.

Over the next few years, mobile phones will connect to 4G LTE networks and be fully –featured devices for business collaboration, leveraging network intelligence to deliver unparalleled quality of experience for voice, messaging and video.

“LTE provides sufficient bandwidth to carry voice, video and data on a single radio network.”

LTE provides sufficient bandwidth to carry voice, video and data on a single radio network. With deployments already accelerating around the world, mobile operators are transitioning from circuit switch voice (GSM/CDMA) toward an all IP SIP-based architecture (IMS) over LTE, supporting high-bandwidth multimedia and real-time applications. This year, Metro-PCS and South Korea Telcos launched voice over LTE based on IMS (VoLTE), and major operators expect to launch similar offerings in late 2013 or 2014. Because the VoLTE architecture is based on SIP, integrating a mobile device as a business extension will become possible without the installation of a soft client.  Providers will enable a foundational set of enterprise-class voice, video, or messaging features via the network while enriching and unifying those experiences with a soft client or mobile browser.  As businesses demand more collaboration over video and social enterprise applications, the support provided by these new 4G LTE networks will increase the quality of communications and collaboration.

In the coming years, the Internet of Everything will connect people and ‘things,’ allowing for contextual collaboration, enabling new work styles, and empowering people to accomplish the extraordinary.  

 “These experiences will be enabled by the Internet of Everything, resulting in a massive amount of data that provides us context and information in everything we do.”

Knowledge workers using enterprise software to instant message, meet via voice and video, and share content with coworkers and clients may also be using social tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, that are not fully integrated into the enterprise. Currently, a knowledge worker may enter an online and video meeting and not recognize another attendee’s name. Today, with some plug-in applications as early examples of a growing trend, scrolling over that person’s name may bring up recent email exchanges, providing a small amount of context going into the meeting. Now imagine a meeting solution that provides even more contextual cues. As you hover over another attendee’s name, a LinkedIn profile pops up with a picture, job title and description, and a list of shared professional contacts. A profile from enterprise and/or consumer social software instantly enlightens you to the personal and professional interests you share with this attendee. These experiences will be enabled by the Internet of Everything, resulting in a massive amount of data that provides us context and information in everything we do, even in the workplace.

2013 will “mark the beginning of a new era in IT; the emergence of the Celebrity CIO”.

“2013 will be the year of the CIO.”

During 2012 we saw the role and demands on IT grow exponentially, and as we enter 2013 we will see this accelerate.  The rise of the Cloud and the migration from the desktop (PC) to the workspace (multiple devices and platforms) will start to become central to business strategy and operational success.  Successful CIOs will react to this challenge as they are less measured by network uptime, and increasingly concerned with service availability, the impact they make on the business and how they can drive efficient business processes, innovation and business transformation.  2013 will be the year of the CIO.  The CIO’s influence and image will transform through the year and we will start to see ‘celebrity’ CIOs emerge.  They will rise like the stars of Silicon Valley have in recent times.  Their broadening skills will become highly prized by any business looking to drive innovation, market appeal and share value.  In turn they will become more influential, command greater recognition and wielding greater power.

As we continue seeing growth in these areas, the importance of collaboration and social interactions in the workplace continue to be prioritized as necessary components of a successful business. Feel free to share your thoughts on how you think cloud collaboration will change in the comments section below.

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