Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My 2007 technology predictions

Here it is, my prediction post as promised. These are the things that I think will continue to grow and garner interest over the next year. My criteria for spotlighting these technologies is not to predict the next YouTube, but to simply focus on technologies that will eventually see widespread adoption. Basically, these are things that are still at varying stages of early adoption, but will continue to increase in mind-share over the next year. So resist no longer. Seriously, you‘ll be much better off being an early adopter than a person dragged kicking-and-screaming into the new world. If you are already an early adopter then I suspect you will find nothing of interest in this post. You have my permission to stop reading right now…

Enterprise wikis

These will continue to happen but they will mostly be a bottom-up technology. Where they are tried from the top-down they will mostly fail. I suspect that most enterprises wikis will be so over-managed (controlled) that they will kill the very dynamic which makes them work. There will be no magic. So, where I‘m bullish on wikis as a trojan-horse technology, I‘m bearish on the enterprise versions. Those organizations that do have the culture and leadership to pull-off the full-monty will flourish but they will be in the minority.

Widgets

Newsweek has declared 2007 The Year of the Widget?

User-generated content was a hallmark of 2006. It's a fair bet 2007 will be all about further customizing your online life.

I think they‘ve got this mostly right. It‘s not the most important thing for next year, but the barriers to adoption are mighty low. Widgets are big because they let you organize your own information. They let you decide what should command your attention. These personal homepages are navigation killers. Widgets and search are all you‘ll ever need. They disintermediate the information architects, aka the control-freaks, and allow you to construct your own meaning. And that is very significant!

I like Netvibes best, but the winner will be the Google Personalized Homepage.

Syndication feeds

Feeds are a massive personal time saver. I‘m with Robert Scoble, who said last year, “...if you do a marketing site and you don‘t have an RSS feed today you should be fired.” I‘m ready to extend that to the rest of the workforce. If you are a knowledge worker, and you are still surfing the Web and continuously hitting that reload button, you should be fired. It‘s time to get off your butts and adopt this technology. The tools to consume feeds are ubiquitous (see Google Personalized Homepages). It‘s no longer optional.

Presence technologies

I like Twitter. It‘s fun. It‘s also some serious stuff. It‘s the same dynamic as using your away messages and message laden icons in chat, except this can be spread more broadly. There are eight people in this world who deserve to know where you are and what you are doing. Twitter is your answer. Twitter is a crude and early indicator of what is to come. (I have my idea for how to do this right and am seeking funding to launch my own start-up. Send money.)

Synthetic worlds

If you don‘t get virtual worlds you need to try a little harder. This is not going to slow down. Ignore it at your own peril. Linden Labs will not be the master of this domain for much longer. IBM is due for a highly visible acquisition. IBM, please buy Linden Labs and then pull a Mozilla with this puppy.

OpenID

Like Jessica Simpson says in that annoying commercial, “I don‘t even know what that is, but I want it.” I have an open-identity, but I struggle to find places to use it. This technology just makes too much sense though. We need to be in charge of our own identity, and this is the only game in town that we can trust. This will not be adopted any time soon outside of the geek world but it‘s a comer.

Social bookmarking

I saved my favorite for last. Social bookmarking is a powerful, powerful collaborative work tool. This is the year when this begins to move from a mostly geek favored technology and sees significant adoption by workgroups. I use del.icio.us as it‘s not so much about the tool as who else is using it. Which is why I‘m less than bullish on the enterprise versions of social bookmarking. Rarely are the people we need to network with completely in our own organization. I know about the attempts to integrate the enterprise versions with the consumer tools, and don‘t think that will work. You can‘t be just a little bit open.

Anyway, social bookmarking is the best tool there is for keeping people on the same page (you just thought it was the wiki), and it is my favorite thing to evangelize bar none. Please do yourself a favor and adopt it this year! You can share your stuff with me here: my del.icio.us network page.

Okay, that‘s it. What did I miss? Let it rip!

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