Why should you keep an eye on these trends? Because they might, in the future, affect how you deliver services and software to your fellow employees and your customers. And because they influence worker tasks, content, and collaboration, they’re sure to show up, in some way, in SharePoint, someday.
Look at the most commonly mentioned trend from this year and last year: the consumerization of IT. You probably experienced it with end users wanting to use devices other than what your company issues or wondering why they can’t have the same user friendliness in workplace apps that they get from consumer- and entertainment-related apps.
Microsoft paid attention to this trend, at least in regards to SharePoint 2010, adding in social computing features, that, when actually used, can enhance communication and collaboration. What else being observed now might in the future affect SharePoint? Here are three trends to keep an eye on:
Enterprise Attention Management. Workers are distracted; technology, the main culprit (exemplified by the deluge of email messages we all receive), attempts to fix it. Here is the “holy grail of attention management,” says Gartner analyst Craig Roth, in paraphrasing his reading of Daniel Tunkelang’s blog post “You Can’t Hurry Relevance”: “A system that understands what is important to the user and dispositions messages accordingly.”
EAM focuses on the productivity of workers, with the goal of helping them to respond to others quicker while making better decisions and minimizing distraction. Adds analyst Roth, “There will not be one tangible ‘thing’ that manages interruptions based on priorities. But there will be a collection of technologies and capabilities that, taken together, can be used to manage attention.”
Context-Aware Computing. Related to this first trend is context-aware computing. A Gartner video about context-aware computing says it “is about user experience, looking at a lot of disciplines across IT, and how they can be leveraged to make content more relevant.” It is not, Gartner says, sending a coupon to a customer via SMS.
A system with software that’s context-aware takes into consideration where the user is and nearby people and devices and can adapt when there are changes to that environment. Gartner says, “It builds on mobile wireless location technologies, analytics, pattern-based strategy, cloud computing.”
Gamification. You know when HR executives are touting something such as gamification, it’s a trend. Gamification, according to HR Executive Online, “is based on using game mechanics and game theory to drive behavior by injecting some fun and a sense of community into the workplace.” If you use a forum for computer professionals that rewards those who answer questions with virtual badges or rankings, or if you’ve ever done online training that calls on you to compete with yourself or others, you’ve experienced some form of gamification.
As SharePoint becomes more deeply embedded in organizations, moving from a scattered, departmental app to a company-wide platform, perhaps we’ll see third-party solutions that expand on the above trends. Or SharePoint itself, in future versions, might enfold these trends in ways we can only imagine. Check back with me in a few years and we’ll see.
For more SharePoint blog posts and articles, check out SharePoint Pro magazine.