My Trends and Tools of 2008

 

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In the spirit of the year end, this is my summary of important trends and tools that have come into relevance for me in 2008.  None of these should bring any surprises, more reinforce the observations of others. Also I steering away from standard corporate tools – people know what most of these are already.

Trend: (more of) Social Networking and Collaboration beyond the boundaries of the enterprise from consumer tools.

All the usual suspects are here:

Majors: Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, LinkedIn, Skype

Minors: BrightKite, Dopplr, Flock, Last.fm,

For the technology set, the digital native and the gadget hungry consumer these services have become part of everyday life. Within the browser or from a rich client applications they have made their home on the PC, laptop or mobile device at home and at work.

It’s not that the enterprise has to replace these tools; most of value is wrapped up in the fact that these are public services. The enterprise will not be able to eclipse the value of community that the public domain provides. The challenge to the enterprise is to leverage, accommodate and profit from the use of these tools and services in a manner that provides a clear framework for their use and where appropriate protect the enterprise or the individual from misuse.

Trend: Device Independent Services for the consumer

For me the greatest and perhaps the most beneficial, yet subtle difference to how I work, manage my content and data is in the up take of device independent services.

Majors: Twitter, Sugarsync, MobileMe, RemembertheMilkEvernote

Minors: Digsby, Foxmarks, Mozy, Wuala

I have categorised this set into their functional areas:

Social networking: Twitter, Digsby, Wuala

One of the reasons that Twitter has remained the de facto micro-blogging platform and service, has been it’s extensibility and obviously their accessible API has been vital to sustaining that position.  I doubt there is a platform (workstation/mobile) or device (workstation/mobile) from which Twitter, is not accessible directly (via web browser) or through some sort of local client. And none of the clients are developed, supported or sustained by Twitter – what an ecosystem!

Adobe Air has in part shown its potential and owes its success to Twitter, and has become the major application platform for the majority of workstation Twitter clients.

I too used Twhirl for a long time. But have switched to Digsby because of true device independent service Digsby offers. Twhirl remains much more functionally rich for social networking tools like Twitter, Friendfeed etc.  But it’s all local.

Digsby remembers me! Wherever I use Digsby my settings will come to me – now I have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Yahoo, MSN (email & chat) all through single service where the configuration of the client is held in the cloud.  For the present I am content to disadvantage myself from the richness of feature set; for the convenience of ease of use in the hope that the richness will follow.

Content & Data: Sugarsync, Mozy, MobileMe, Evernote, Foxmarks, Wuala

These provide robust, resilient, roaming content access and synchronisation services for content and data.  Effectively from content is in a data center in the cloud; any risk to data loss is almost entirely mitigated.  Though not all support every workstation platform available (most are slow to support Linux or Mac unless directly marketed at those – apart from Wuala); they have been quick to provide mobile access or clients for a truely mobile or roaming service to access your content and data. 

Nothing today in the enterprise or corporate scene quite fits what these services can do – there is a gap.  Whether it needs to be or will be offered for enterprise in the next 12 months is probably unlikely (especially considering the economic climate); but eventually it is likely to bleed into the services and products from the main vendors. 

Task & Coordination: RemembertheMilk

I actually spent a little while trying out a few services that are available in this space; especially after learning of the principles of GTD; though I’m no practitioner.  I just need to be able add, edit/update and be reminded for the actions I need to accomplish.

RemembertheMilk gives me the best access (browser, gmail, IM, mobile, twitter) and variety use the service.  In fact it is that availability and accessibility that makes it such a great service.

Summary:

Have I not tried to cover everything, and have not said enough about mobile devices (probably a post in its own right), but have tried to give a flavour of the vast scope of tools and services that making an impacting myself and in way we all interact with one another and with our content and data. 

I also remain confident that despite or even in spite of the current economic climate; these trends and the tools and services that provide will continue to grow in important, impact and sophistication.

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