The Future of Collaboration: Everything melts together!

– What will happen to good old email? Will it die? Will it live? Or will it transform?

This is the question that will be asked by thousands and thousands participants from all over the world during the week ahead at Lotusphere 2012. This is the place to be if Collaboration and Social Business is what you care about.

I am not at Lotusphere this time and I do not know what will be announced from IBM during the week. But if we look around us on what is going on in the market and in the social collaboration world, we could make some qualified guesswork. So here is what my crystal globe tells me:

The melting pot
Everything will melt together; Email, chat, documents, blogs, activity streams, phone, sharing, discussions, communities and – not at least – business applications. You will all recognize it from lots of IBM presentations from the last years: Social Everywhere!

We know that documents (read: Sharepoint) have no value unless they are connected to people with skills on the documents content. They will have no value if you cannot find them without knowing where they are. They have no value if you cannot transform them into activities in teamwork with others. They have no value if you cannot attach discussions and people to them. To understand documents we have to get help from others. That is why even content management systems have to become social, in the meaning that both readers and editors are connected and able to collaborate on the spot and on the minute.

Social business apps
Even business applications get social! No matter what business application you are using at the moment, no matter what website you are on – they will all get the social tools you need to access skills, information, people, discussions and bookmarks in context with what your job is or what you are working on right now.

Social Everywhere means that you will se chat, unified communication (phone), email, discussions, people search, file sharing and search, task management, audio and video – everything melted together. All in one environment – in your preferred work space. On your preferred platform and device.

Social wherever you are
Mobility will be of high importance. Wherever you are you should be able to collaborate in a social context, doing the same actions you do by using a PC in your office. Your office will no longer be in a building, but in your pocket and in your head.

– Where is your office quarters, Arne, people ask me when I am on travel. And my answer is always the same: – Here! Just where I happen to be in the moment!

Will email die?
But what happens to good old email? Will it disappear? No, it will be there, but it will be different. Your traditional email client will transform into a social collaboration client. Unless you use Outlook, of course. Microsoft does not seem to catch what is going on in the market place. They seem to be stuck in their understanding of social as email and document sharing. I have never seen a presentation from Microsoft talking about social. But I have heard about a Microsoft presentation saying: – We don’t do social! That is probably why you have to buy loads and loads of third-party stuff to try to make Microsoft social.

Will Lotus Notes die?
So what will happen to the Lotus Notes client? Well, part of it has already happened. It’s based on an open platform so you could plug-in every social application you fantasy may let you think of. And I believe you will see that coming on even stronger. I believe you will se an even stronger social collaboration client coming. And I believe you will se social email that integrates with whatever you have from before, no matter what email server you use. I believe you will se email that appear in you intranets website being in context with your job and activities you are working on.

Desktop office will die – slowly
I also believe that in the future you will not need to install a productivity suite like Microsoft Office on your computer. Text editors, spreadsheets and presentations will be an integrated part of your intranet. And it will be compatible with almost any document standard you might want. And, as if that wasn’t enough – your documents will be social – in the meaning that more that one editor will be able to work at the document at the same time – simultaneous editing! Of course this productivity suite will be enabled in every setting you may be – intranet, business application, collaboration suite – wherever, whenever ad on whatever device.

Tomorrow is on monday!
IBM is the undisputed number one leader into the new area of collaboration. I am convinced that IBM will show you this at Lotusphere 2012. I am sure some of my predictions will come true during the week – at least it will be i that directions. But we will have to wait for the details and the demo’s!

I believe the future will be here already on monday morning! Have fun!