Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What will the meetings of the future look like?

Jonah Sterling, creative director/UX director, IdentityMine

USA: There was a time when technology early adopters everywhere anticipated a single hardware communication and collaboration device that would eliminate what came before it and usher in a simple, single-device era.

It started with the desktop. Then came the laptop. Tablets were introduced with the promise that they would eliminate not just laptops, but newspapers, as well. Blackberries would replace cell phones, and then Smart phones were going to replace blackberries.

Then Apple released the iPad and in the midst of the renewed claims that this device would eliminate all others, there came an important realization: Tablet devices aren’t going to eliminate anything… and they are still awesome.

Rather than seeking one device to replace all others, executives in companies big and small, must find ways to integrate various technologies across platforms to achieve their communication and productivity goals. These days it’s not uncommon to find an executive team that works cross-platform via mobile devices, desktops, and sporadic adoption of iPads or Slate devices.

Rather than seeking a monolithic technical solution to eliminate all that came before, we need to figure out how to make the technologies we currently use every day work together to provide a seamless user experience that actually improves communication and productivity in the workplace.

It’s time to build software applications that can share data cross-platform and form factor so that industry leaders can use the devices that they like most to do their work.

What does this look like?
IdentityMine is working with a Fortune 500 client to develop their next-phase Executive Dashboard. The Executive Dashboard concept takes into account the complexities of a global business, but it can be applied to businesses of all sizes. While some of the ideas presented in this concept haven’t been implemented in this way to date, everything in this concept is possible with technology that exists right now.

The Executive Dashboard mirrors the way executives work, giving them a technical gateway to manage common tasks such as receiving alerts, managing communication, and reviewing alerts via natural user interface – touch, gesture, and voice.

This paperless communication gateway integrates hardware, including a tablet, mobile device, and touch-enabled display; and natural user interface technology including gesture and voice navigation, cloud computing, and server integration. The nature of it being cross-platform, cross-device, and relying on the Cloud for data synchronization, makes it simple to assign tasks, track alerts, and collaborate around the world.

The large-scale displays provide a visual reference for a variety of data, including pagination, data visualization, 3D modeling, and gesture control for data exploration.

Using touch-navigation on a mounted wall display to login, the system can authenticate the executive’s identity. In alternative scenarios, this authentication can take place on a touch-enabled laptop or tablet device. Executives can use the camera on the tablet device to implement facial recognition and the microphone for voice recognition. In addition to being useful communication tools, the voice and facial recognition can be used for additional security.

The executive dashboard deploys, and can display (such as in this case) a global activity report that integrates geo-data and mapping with real-time business intelligence reporting. It includes critical information such as team status, alerts, schedules, and tasks. There are many ways to explore data, including remote touch via the tablet device, gesture navigation, and direct touch to the display monitor. Voice features also allow the executive to make notes on reports during collaboration.

With the Executive Dashboard., users can collaborate and combine ad hoc data with other team members in a managed data forum. Drag and drop functionality will allow for cross-referencing of data and easy sharing between team members. Since the technology has been deployed enterprise-wide, other members of the team are able to video-conference using pre-positioned cameras as well as the cameras installed in their mobile devices for real-time collaboration and an “always on” office environment.

The next generation of executives will increasingly look to integrated hardware solutions and small, powerful, cloud-connected applications to not only boost productivity, but to invisibly coordinate their regular management and communication activities.

The concept goes beyond simple paperless environments and embraces a more complex way of approaching relationships between tasks and people.

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