Friday, January 01, 2010

Optimistic About This Era Of Integration

A new day.

A new year.

A new decade.

A time for optimism – even though the pessimists will tell you we are doomed.

Some will tell you this is just another rising of the sun this morning. Just another rotation of the planet Earth on its tilted axis. They will tell you that the sun comes up every day – so don't get too excited about this sunrise.


I see this morning as a great excuse for a milestone. A great place to put a landmark in time. A great opportunity to revisit our goals, evaluate our progress, and forecast our next course.

A great time indeed.

If you think about the progress in technology that we have made in the last ten years – then think now about the opportunities for we will encounter to extend that progress. By two or tenfold – the degree is up to us.

Here is a sample of what I mean – my predictions for what the next ten years may come to bear:

The past decade saw a complete transformation in how we communicate. The local phone call has been replaced for the most part by the text message. And the ability to keep in touch has been enhanced by social media forums like Facebook and Twitter. The next ten years will see this function become more and more convenient – ubiquitous – integrated into our lives – as cell phones continue their metamorphosis into mini communication computers allowing us to always be connected with those that we care about even though we are far apart. To create this next level of togetherness – video communications will be enhanced so that we will feel like we are right next to each other as we toil through the tediousness of our days.

As well, these little devices we currently call cell phones will continue to evolve to provide applications to assist us in every manner of our day to day lives – to do banking – to do shopping – to answer all of our questions – and to help us see opportunities we may not otherwise see.

The past decade showed us a transformation in the way television is made available to us. We saw the advances in Cable and Satellite technology – high definition broadcasts over the air. As well we saw new Internet services like YouTube reshape our definition of entertainment.

No longer does one have to be reliant of a massive communication enterprise like a television network, film studio, a recording company or a newspaper, or publishing house to accept your talents. Those that are motivated can now self produce and self publish – at very little expense – to get your message out.

Like I'm doing here.

But right now we are in the "wild-west" days of the reshaping of these mediums. Over the next decade we will see the ability of these means of expression to become much more simple. And much more available.

And much more structured.

In ten years it is likely that YouTube will be only one of a dozen or more such services – in much the way the major television networks and film studios evolved into the incredible amount of cable TV stations available today.

Likely it will be ten years from today – that the TV in your living room is no longer simply a TV – although we will likely still call it a television. It will provide you with the Internet as well, now expanding its use beyond just a medium to sit and watch – but now to interact with – to share with – and to communicate and express yourself with.

The television will no longer be your window to look outside to the world from your living room, but will also allow the world to look inside to appreciate you.

Right now, our devices are bound by cables – by independent devices like cameras and camcorders needing to be hooked into by a wire to your personal computer so you can download your pictures to your hard drive and then find a special program that will take your pictures and video burn them to a CD or copy them to a memory card that can be inserted in another device to be played and appreciated – like a DVD player connected to a TV (by wires) or a stereo system in your home or car or in your pocket.


But over the last decade we have seen tremendous inroads made by wireless communication protocols like WiFi and Bluetooth. These fundamental foundations will be built upon over the next ten years to redesign these multiple layers of products so that they instinctively talk easier to each other. For example – as you will pull your car into the laneway – it will detect your home's wireless network – and start communicating with it. Information from the car will be shared with information from home – not only synching trivial things like music and video stored in the cars entertainment system with the home entertainment system – but also news of the day – global, local, and even personal. It will synch calendar schedules and grocery lists and such detail that will be of use the next time the car is to be driven.

It's really not so far-fetched. And people will appreciate the necessity of such data transfers as they start to make their lives easier.

At the workplace – the tools you will use to perform your duties will be made simpler – and even more portable. You will become more accessible than even the texts and emails on your Blackberry or iPhone – with greater access to decision making data you won't have to gather and compile before you leave your desk.

In fact the office desk – or workstation that so many of us now feel ourselves confined to may become less and less as we find ourselves collaborating in groups more and more. Team collaboration will evolve into collective thinking and decision making.

It won't be perfected in ten years – but we will be moving in that direction as decisively as we are moving into the more mobile direction of connectivity now.

The argument against this movement currently is security. It will continue to be so in the next ten years. And rightly so as the threat of identity theft and the security of corporate information is very much a valid concern. But as in the past – these concerns will continue to be met by enterprising ingenuity that answers each and every niche concern with a product or a process that solves the problem momentarily for a fee – such as the anti-virus and security system providers of today.

In short – security concerns will continue to be the checks and balances that ensure each solution is well thought out – but likely those lessons will be learned at the expense of those who adapt each new phase of integration early in the cycle of development.

Leadership will continue to be redefined as leaders coordinate collaborations to determine direction – not simply dictate direction.

As I see it, this is the path we are currently on. The direction the flow of progress is taking us. The momentum seems to be behind connected collaboration – and the integration of all components that can play a part in it. Be it your car talking sharing data with your home PC – which is also talking to your TV; or be it your role in a team as a collaborator – or leading a team of collaborators – in the exercise of collective thinking.

This is the way things seem to be moving now. And I see nothing ahead to yet to stop or curtail this period of integration.

This era of integration.

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