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The Future of Emergent Collaboration, "Smart" Platforms

Posted by on November 10, 2011

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how collaborative platforms are going to evolve or the next few years.  After starting my vendor review series I was really able to get much more insight into what vendors are thinking and where they are going.  I was also able to look at what organizations are doing that are actually deploying these collaborative technologies and strategies.  Of course every emergent collaboration vendor has their own vision of where they want to go and where they see the future of collaboration.  However, I believe the next evolution of these products is going to be to “smart” platforms.”  In a subsequent post I’ll look at what I think some of the characteristics of “smart” platforms are but for now I just want to introduce the concept.

Currently many organizations that use collaborative solutions internally do see significant business value from their efforts but the platforms are still largely very manual.  In other words the platforms we have today change where we work and allow us to work more efficiently.  But these platforms are mostly just empty vessels which require work from employees to function.  Basically we’re still driving Flinstone cars instead of the modern cars we have today.

So what could a “smart” platform look like or do?

A “smart” platform will  make certain decisions and take actions on our behalf.  For example this type of a platform might be able to allow us to drag and drop a document into our file storage system which then creates any necessary project groups (with proper taxonomy and naming conventions already built in) and invites all the right people without us having to do any of the work, it just “knows” who needs to be a part of that project.  Another example might be that the platform “sees” the type of work that an employee is doing and automatically recommends a person to collaborate with or suggests additional relevant information that the employee might benefit from (with context around why).  This platform will be able to, for lack of a better word, understand how individual employees work and will adjust accordingly.  Another example might be that the platform dynamically adjusts what the user experience looks like or feels like based on how the employee uses the platform.

It’s funny, when SIRI first came out the first thing that I thought of were the enterprise applications.  In fact I have a hard time trying to see a future where we don’t interact and get work done through our devices without using our voice.  This is also what I think of when I see Watson, IBMs new super computer which is already making it’s way into the enterprise.

I personally find it fun and interesting to think about what the future of collaboration and work can look like.  But, it’s interesting to do so without focusing on any limits that technology might impose.  In other words assuming that anything can be done, how do you think work change over the next 3 years, what about 10 years?

  • Hi Jacob,

    I just want to let you know the future is here. Our Ideate Framework ( uses Smart Client’ technology that uses an Agent to perform added-value work on behalf of human and system clients.

    The technology fuses early Declarative Programming ideas with REST architecture concepts for a “FunctionalWeb”, that the agent uses to efficiently link and mash-up information on-demand to construct custom responses based on interaction context.

    If you are interested, I’m happy to show it to you sometime.

    • Sure, curious to see it but it doesn’t sound like it’s a collaboration platform, more a customer service decision engine?

      • Thanks for your interest. It’s an adaptive process engine so it can
        support a fairly wide range of activities from user self-managed Cases
        to complex long-running processes. In either case, the collaboration is

      • I agree, I had the same wonder reading your post!

  • Hi Jacob, 

    Great article. I agree that we still have a long way to go towards efficient collaboration, and that lightening the burden on the user through smart mechanisms is key to get there.

    At Spreadd (, we’ve been developing an application very similar to the “smart” platform you described – it automatically finds the right people to collaborate just by seamlessly capturing their activities. We haven’t launched yet but the results so far have been promising. Checkout this video to understand a little bit better how we do it –

    If you’re (or anyone) is interested on knowing more, just shoot me an email – alves (at)

  • Yes indeedy – smart smart system to system  enterprise integrations! 🙂 Right up my alley!

    Good post Jacob.

    • Yes it sure is, always good to hear from you 🙂

  • Adina

    Nice article, Jacob! I’m looking forward to read more from you. At Agilewords we’re also focusing on improving collaboration tools. I’m looking forward to read more from you!

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