For 2014, I predict …
1. The browser becomes the OS. More and more is being added to Google’s Chrome browser; so much so that it is starting to look much like an operating system. You have all of these plug-ins (like applications), you can customize and configure your device or the look and feel of the browser. Nowhere is Chrome more an OS than with Chromebooks, where it is the OS. And it is a very web-oriented OS (thin client), with just the browser, media player and file manager as its only native applications. The question is: will IE or Firefox follow suit? Or are they pursuing different directions?
2. The social enterprise. As a result of there being more and better tools available for the social enterprise, I see more people moving off SharePoint or other large collaborative infrastructure systems, and moving to the more agile and less expensive SaaS offerings (of which there are plenty) like Box, PBWorks, SocialBridge, Wrike, Moxie, Huddle, HyperOffice, Zoho Work, Teambox, Google Apps, BaseCamp, etc. It is a good thing that there are easier tools, since I am not so sure that many organizations’ management understand the value of social tools in the enterprise. We did a study this spring that told us that 60% of management understands social in the enterprise… but we don’t believe it. Management may know what some social tools are, but they don’t know where they will get the most leverage, or even if a particular tool is good for their organization. Although a McKinsey report says that 70% of organizations are now using social, only 3% are getting a big benefit from the technology. I believe this will start to change rapidly in 2014 as more Millenials achieve management positions, or as current managers gets the training they need to make good decisions around these tools.
3. WebRTC will be more Prevalent. Although not yet ratified as a standard, WebRTC has the advantage of running in a browser and not requiring any download for audio or video conferencing. Unfortunately there is not yet a mechanism for screen sharing, but since Google put the original code into Open Source, WebRTC is evolving quickly. There are a number of new tools already using WebRTC: Kollaborate.io, Collaborate.com, Bistri.me and many of the major vendors like Cisco, Google (who started it all), and Citrix (Podio) are looking at incorporating this emerging standard into their tools, although they are mainly used as a backup offering to Flash or VoIP. (However, there are SIP to WebRTC solutions like Plivo and webrtc2sip.org/.) In spite of all this hoo ha over Web RTC, neither Microsoft nor Apple are yet in the mix. I believe that in 2014, not only will WebRTC become more common, but both Microsoft and Apple will also jump in with their implementations, possibly causing developers to look at three different implementations rather than just one.
4.Changing HR Landscape. Not many years ago, HR was just considered to be a place to help with onboarding and getting all the forms filled out. Today, with tools like Workday, things are quite different. HR has a more strategic role to play, and in at least 50% of companies, it is getting more budget for tech. The war for talent is driving a lot of innovation. Start-ups such as Entelo and TalentBin have figured out ways (through big data) to determine which employees you can poach before they even know that they wanted a new job. Other new HR tools help with everything from video applicant screening to automating benefits, and worker task optimization. Tools including PeopleMatter, Proven.com, Wozer.com, HireVue, Zenefits, ClearFit, WorkableHR, CollabWorks, Simpler and TalentSoft are changing HR forever by making previoulsy ineffective processes more effective, allowing HR professionals to spend more time on strategy.
[Editor's Note: This post is part of the annual "Cutter Predicts ..." series.]