How often do you collaborate on a given workday? How large a role does technology play when you do? In most workplaces, the respective answers to those questions are "a lot" and "very." Even then, you've only begun to unearth the utility, capability, and cool factor that technology-enhanced collaboration has to offer — and cloud collaboration will almost certainly continue to provide the best and brightest solutions, just like it does today.
In other words, keep an eye on the following three solutions if your organization's near-future plans include a heavy dose of collaboration:
The idea of broad-scale software interoperability doesn't sound super flashy on its face. Software with different capabilities working together seamlessly would be helpful and all, but what about the desktop virtual reality (VR) helmets? And where are the colleagues powered by artificial intelligence (AI)?
If that resembles your thoughts, you may wish to reconsider. More than any other cloud collaboration technology, interoperability has the potential to change the way professionals work together. Bring-your-own-software (BYOS) is a major trend in business collaboration and productivity, and it will only grow in importance as companies continue to encourage collaboration with colleagues, customers, and business partners. That's especially true given the problems that arise when companies try to shoehorn their employees into binary sets of solutions, such as shadow IT. Looking in the crystal ball, it's a given companies will struggle with interoperability in a BYOS-enabled office for some time before they inevitably decide to do something about it.
The cloud's role in solving interoperability will be as broad as it is deep. There are already signs of its utility in solving such problems. For one example, the financial services sector has made great use of middleware, a class of software that uses cloud-based AI to intelligently transcribe and combine data from various systems.
Meanwhile, other cloud solutions will focus less on transcription than on real-time assistance. Much like today's unified communications tools stitch a company's chosen digital communications tools into a cohesive product, near-future solutions will allow employees to use all sorts of tools and devices to work together in real-time without sacrificing their own personal workflows.
In practice, these solutions could come as wholly virtualized, web-based packages, or (as in healthcare's case) rely on after-the-fact partnerships between competing vendors to build solutions that work together out of the box. In any event, however, expect interoperability to play a big role in the future of collaboration — and the cloud to enable that future.
Everyone has watched AI's trek to jaw-dropping utility and conversational ability, and it's clear thinking machines will play an increasingly prominent role in all sorts of business functions. A capable AI solution can already handle statistical analysis, logistical planning, metric monitoring, and a lot more, with humans directing its efforts and benefiting from the results.
If modern-day AI uses are any indication, you can also add collaboration to the list of things AI will excel at in the very near future. When you can ask your phone what the temperature is in Dallas and get an accurate answer in seconds, asking it to figure out why sales are sluggish in January or which employees are performing best this week sounds like a formality, with more complex functions yet following that level of awareness and ability.
The growing AI-as-a-service field, which includes offerings from established tech giants, shows how the near future of AI cloud collaboration could play out. A company without the resources or willingness to develop its own thinking machine can easily develop in-house tools that interface with rented AI, which receives queries and returns answers from the comfort of a remote data center.
While localized AI solutions are certainly a possibility, then, it looks like the AI industry is already heavily invested in the cloud. Throw in enhancements that let systems exchange information, and you have a future where every business is a payment away from integrating full-on collaborative assistants with their own data and workloads — an idea that carries ramifications ranging from hiring practices to basic business functions.
With VR, the cloud's utility largely mirrors its omnipresent role in the distribution of AI solutions. Powering an entire office full of desktop VR devices will be an expensive proposition before you even purchase the first headset. Having a central unit with high-end GPUs and some type of virtualization capability to enable multiple instances of the same VR solution at once only makes sense, explains Recode. Employees get the ability to access whatever VR solutions they need from any machine or headset, while companies get the relief of not purchasing hundreds of VR-capable desktops.
Expect this basic setup to dominate most offices as they implement VR solutions, at least for the foreseeable future. And oh, what a future it is. Architects can take clients on virtual tours of the building designs they're buying, while surgeons can give lectures on room-sized versions of the organs they're about to transplant. There's a lot of good that can come from those little goggles, with bigger and better tools coming as businesses discover uses and solutions and developers find ways to make tools companies want.
And what about cloud collaboration? VR will enable a deeper level of collaboration than ever before in many others. For one example, imagine attending a meeting with international clientele while dressed to impress, all without ever leaving your house or the T-shirt and jeans you're wearing. VR will make it possible, and cloud technology will provide a backbone that makes it more affordable and accessible than individual VR-capable machines ever will.
In all these situations, cloud tools provide both the processing power and access to data needed to make the tools their most effective.
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