As Matt Brown wrote earlier this month, video is quickly becoming a core technology component of the workplace experience. Henry Dewing predicted the resurgence of investment in video conferencing from the conference room to the desktop in 2007 based on affordable HD-quality video, more user-friendly interfaces, and better interoperability between systems. We're not yet at the tipping point of widespread adoption, but we're moving there rapidly. And when we do, the primary source — and destination — for video content will be the devices broadly provisioned to employees: the desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones from which employees will create, publish, and interact with video. Consider some of the trends we've seen accelerate over the past six months:
It’s hard to avoid the tired old metaphors of “explosion” and “flood” when speaking of the exponential expansion of Internet and other digital content. Consider this startling factoid: According to Google’s recent Think Quarterly on innovation, “In 2003, five exabytes of information existed. Now we generate that every two days.”
Three key factors drive the spike in inquiries Forrester has seen this year about translation technologies, practices, and service providers. The first is this inundation of content. Even if only a tiny percentage of it could be valuable in other languages, it overwhelms the capacity of human translators.
Second, the strongest growth in consumerism and purchasing power is happening in countries with young populations and expanding economies, such as the so-called BRICs and CIVETs. (That’s Brazil, Russia, India, and China plus the more obscure Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey.) Maintaining a consumer-oriented web presence in a single language today is akin to selling only to left-handed customers.
(And it’s futile anyway. Site visitors can use services like Google Translate to render your site in dozens of available languages, without your knowledge or any control over the quality of the translations.)
Finally, even if you ignore the consumer opportunities – and many companies still do – there’s the challenge of multilingual employee collaboration. Due to an overemphasis on the technology, many global enterprises seem surprised to learn that their slick new collaboration platform doesn’t do much to help the French collaborate with the Koreans or the Saudis if there is no common language.
Mobile, social, video, and cloud collaboration services are quickly becoming four technology legs of a stool supporting what I call the workplace experience. Enterprise investment in these technologies continues to outpace the overall IT market.
Yet taken alone, I'd argue these technologies offer little to no competitive advantage to firms.
Why? One reason: Thanks to the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft,IBM, Cisco, and a broad array of technology suppliers, virtually every company in the world can now access them. Consider the facts:
Cloud collaboration services: Evidence suggests small companies can put these technologies to use faster than their larger counterparts. Basic business collaboration services can now cost less than a daily cup of coffee to run for employees when provisioned via the cloud. What it means: Barriers to use are low.
Enterprise mobile technologies: Individual employees are able to put the latest mobile devices and apps to productive business use faster than their employers can. Our data suggests the most highly mobile (and highly paid) employee segments (33% of the information workforce) already embrace these tools to make themselves more productive from work, from home, and from the road. What it means: Companies have little control over who uses these.
Enterprise social tools: The current adoption barriers social technologies face in enterprises (by the numbers, it truly is dismal) appear to have more to do with cultural ambivalence and organizational complexity than they do with technology complexity. What it means: Many IT shops have overcome the tech complexity and are now scratching their heads on these other factors.