Cisco Blogs

5 Predictions for the Future of Collaboration – #2

- April 21, 2009 - 27 Comments

Yesterday I shared my first prediction regarding the future of collaboration. Here’s my second prediction:Prediction #2:It is not about “on-premise” versus “on-demand”, it will be all about the User ExperienceIn the technology industry we tend to focus a lot on the underlying computing model and how best to deliver functionality and value. That makes sense, because it’s core to what we do. But as an industry need to move beyond this conversation. Ultimately User Experience is what matters.We need to provide an experience that’s consistent and seamless, with easy access to the services you care about, regardless of your location or device. To enable this seamless experience, applications must be hosted and delivered through a combination of on-premise and on-demand networks working together. Bottom line, there will always be a combination of different types of applications — some that are local and others that are in the cloud. There are a few factors driving this: First, a multi-generational work force demands multiple modes of collaboration. The Millennial generation — those born after 1980 — has a natural affinity for real time, synchronous social communication, enabled by tools such as chat, SMS, new forms of video, and interactive decision-support systems. While others will still prefer asynchronous modes such as email.Second, individual preference for collaboration tools will vary. For instance, my boss John Chambers uses video blogs as his preferred collaboration tool. I, on the other hand, use blogs, micro-blogging and social networks quite extensively. We need to architecturally combine video, voice and data on a unified platform —- and allow for the personalization of collaboration tools.Third, mobility will be a major factor — going forward the “where” in collaboration will become less relevant. What if we can access applications from any where on any device? In the palm of your hand or a 50” screen — with the same HD experience. And while you might think that “the cloud” can actually address a lot of this on its own, there will always be a need for the security, reliability, scalability, and control of the on-prem enterprise network.So a key focus for technology innovation is to enable an organization’s on-prem network to seamlessly interoperate with the Cloud. And going forward, collaboration will be about technology adapting to people’s needs rather than the other way around.Prediction #1Prediction #3Prediction #4Prediction #5

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  1. I think this is already the case. But it going to be even more in the future. The user experience is one of the biggest factors in maintaining a high conversion rate between visitors and sales.

  2. Another fine prediction/post.I agree absolutely that, technology should be made to adapt to people's needs and not the other way around! So very true.

  3. How will IT jobs change with the advent of cloud computing?

  4. Loving these predictions and can not agree more on this point. The millennial generation has grown up with a lot of technology at their disposal and it is very comfortable with it. The technology seems transparent to them and it's all about the best user experience to enable everything in their lives. Looking forward to the 3 other predictions.

  5. Hi,I think you are saying that speeds and feeds are gone for a while (someone made this statement in 1999/2000 when GiGE was introduced en masse), 10GE adoption is taking longer than everyone would like to see, 8/10 years? 40G/100G will stay state of the art for a long time (2020?)I agree with you about user experience (Video/Voice/Data) and quality of service provided by infrastructure including switches and routers and they are tied together.

  6. Have to disagree- there are companies looking toward hosted because in this economic down-turn there are some incredible savings to be made. Data Center, software, servers, staff. Our company just hosted all of its email services are we believe we have cut a staggering 30% off our IT spend. The user expirience stays the same- its the same client.I am sure a Porche is an amazing expirience- I'm not sure I can afford it! ;-)

  7. Definitely agree on location or device agnostic experience that’s consistent and seamless. To add to that would be the ease of use and usability factors. Going back to basics – a most oft forgotten thing is that most users are’nt concerned about what platform its built on or whether its incorporating a sexy technology. Its invisible to them and most prefer it that way. More importantly : “Is it easy to use and do what I want?”From campaign websites to commerce gateways and appliances (Internet or otherwise) the interactional “design” is key. Top of mind to users is how to get the most out it easily and conveniently – in the tasks to perform, knowledge to mine.Organizationally to lead the way, our own offerings be they hardware, software or website should be a reflection. Unfortunately in some places its still a struggle to reach the light.

  8. It is on-premises"" not on-premise"

  9. I think that there are some good points here, already.I wonder if there will be any decoupling of the UI from the service - kind of like how you can post a tweet and if you have the Twitter app on Facebook, it will post there as well. But I'm thinking on a larger scale, and more intelligent. As an example: Post under 160 chars? It'll post to Twitter, Facebook & blog. Post > 160 but < FB's limit will post to FB & blog. Post > FB's limit will only post to blogAlso, when reading Keith's comment about functionality being different across platforms, I started thinking about XML and other open standards that are theoretically agnostic as data.Lastly, Marcin's comment got me wondering about how far along the Semantic web is? :)

  10. User experience and the SAAS model is the key for collaborative apps but equally important is providing integrated user flow within a collaborative app based on the specific usecase(s) you are trying to solve to drive stickiness and adoption. Too often, you see apps where the user is lost within the app and would never come back. The fundamental key to user experience is by first addressing the problem statement? That is, what problem(s) am I am trying to solve within an application?

  11. @Jose Tormo, points taken. However, how do you solve a business problem when ease-of-use is *the* primary barrier to increased adoption?When otherwise intelligent people require constant reminders on how to use the features of a collaboration platform, th

  12. Samuel in his post posed an interesting question: “Where is the cloud?”In many respects, the cloud is the collection of private and public networks where services can be delivered on-demand, as a service. Think Gmail or Cisco WebEx where the end user accesses services through a web browser without having to worry about what’s resident on their local device. The convergence of on-demand and on-premise applications will give customers flexibility in deployment models to suit their specific requirements. That’s the type of environment where a consistent user experience will be a game-changer.

  13. Keith commented that a seamless and consistent user experience “is impossible as long as there is competition in the market place.” Our view is that while competition poses challenges around interoperability, there’s also a significant upside to having a variety of players innovating to solve customer problems. Open competition leads to customer choice and, ultimately, a better experience. More broadly speaking we believe the next wave of productivity will come from inter-company collaboration. Many companies already recognize the competitive advantages of having secure collaboration between sites and beyond their firewall with suppliers, partners, and customers. Many of the disparate “experiences” that users have today (e.g.: updating presence status, sending an IM, participating in a web conferencing session, etc) will converge in the form of a unified user interface which will work across multiple modalities, over a range of devices and environments. As an industry we have lots of work to do yet, but the potential payoff here is enormous.

  14. Several of you have posted interesting comments and questions regarding where innovation needs to happen. Kent, for example, observed that the key is “exploring design above the application layer.” Well said! As I mentioned, a key area of focus across Cisco is the user experience. Cordell Ratzlaff is now leading a Cisco team on an effort we call Collaboration User Design Engineering. Cordell spent 2+ years leading the group that created the look and feel of the Apple Macintosh OS (

  15. The key to success here that is not specifically called out is ADOPTION. For all of this collaboration to really soar, it is imperative that everyone not only be provided the opportunity to participate, but be compelled to do so. The user experience is certainly a main driver to adoption, but we need to also explore better ways to drive human behvior such as engaging the shy geniuses"" to step forward. Often the most active participants are not the most qualified, but rather the most outspoken. The industry (and Cisco) would be well served to explore the means to capture the voices of the quiet experts.This is great stuff and your excellent insights are appreciated. You've got me hooked, waiting for the next one."

  16. No one ever got rich selling what people need. Sell people what they want. Don't help little old ladies across the street when they don't want to go.

  17. If your definition of the User Experience includes functionality and value as subsets, then I will agree with you. Most of the commentary focuses on ease of use, natural or organic industrial/consumer design, but the business buyer is looking foremost to solve a business problem - time to market for a new design, a competitive advantage in functionality plus seamless migration for the installed base, etc. Those values must come first, and your tools must deliver the capabilities your customers need to remain world-class.What you truly seek is the must have"" element that accelerates the adoption level quickly from the early adopter community through the mainstream user segments. Google found this with its superior search engine and then with youtube, though only a minority yet post their personal or corporate videos this way. Other than Windows email and Polycom speakerphones, there are no clear winners in the enterprise collaboration environment space, mostly because there is no agreement on the collaboration process."

  18. I really like this part echnology adapting to people’s needs rather than the other way around. ""Ultimately User Experience is what matters.A crude and blunt example for this would be the success of Nintendo Wii compared Xbox 360 and Sony PS3. Though both Xbox and PS3 had more powerful processors and graphics, its the user experience with Nintendo Wii that really mattered to people."

  19. I think exploring design above the application layer is what makes Apple so successful - look at the iPhone.

  20. Your predictions are interesting and I am looking forward to rest of them. The Millennial generation divide you talk of is important to be taken care of, for a collaborated work environment to provide value in an enterprise.

  21. where is the cloud

  22. OK, so let's assume that the focal point, going forward, will truly be more about differentiation in the user experience.Then, why do most network designers never explore above the application layer? Isn't it time that we started to acknowledge the need to design above the application layer -- and go deeper into the open frontier of the experience layer?Ultimately User Experience is what matters"" -- then the Experience Layer is likely the logical place where the next wave of collaboration innovation will occur, agreed?Are there examples of Adaptive Usability in action today? I only can offer design concepts, for discussion --"

  23. We need to provide an experience that’s consistent and seamless, with easy access to the services you care about, regardless of your location or device.""Is impossible as long as there is competition in the market place. A standard will not develop that is met across all systems, phones, browsers.Otherwise a utilitarian society would exist and many people would not want it that way.Right now I would say 85-90% of what the average person uses looks the same across platforms. Functionality will always be on different levels because the technology is not shared equally across various platforms."

  24. the biggest challenge w collaboration is being able to zoom in quickly on just what you need as opposed to wading through tons of posts. #tags are good, but need to evolve to something beyond the rudimentary, and dont apply to video obv.

  25. I like to see that cisco understand this and I know cisco has for some time. What always gets me is why many of the other companies out there just don't get it yet.

  26. Loving these predictions and can’t agree more on this. The Millennial generation grew up with a lot of technology at their disposal and is very comfortable with it. Technology seems transparent to them and it is all about the best User Experience to enable everything in their lives. Looking forward to the remaining 3 predictions.

  27. I would add one more thing - for the first time ever many of us have better computer based tools at homes than at work - bigger screens, faster processors, iPhone UIs etc. We are also used to the responsiveness and ease of use provided by all the modern social - and not only - tools - even google search or gmail. It's either instantaneous or we switch it off. The User Experience offered by the Collaboration Networks (software and hardware) must not only match but surpass the one offered by Social Networks - in order to make it an attractive proposition - which is often not the case right now.