Immersive Collaboration – Back to the future

Posted on: January 29, 2015 by John Minnick

In the ‘good old days’ people would travel to their office, and everything they needed to work could be found there – including their colleagues. Things have changed and we are working in increasingly diverse, mobile and global teams, but, no matter where we are, we still need to be able to work with colleagues as easily as if they were in the same room.

Despite being separated by oceans, continents and time zones, today’s teams have to form close working relationships. This means mobility; the ability to collaborate from any environment – not just in voice, but also with other inter-connected sound, touch and sight elements. It means seamless collaboration, whereby you don’t need to push dozens of buttons, keep logging in or follow complicated processes. The emphasis should be on offering a face-to-face environment, allowing you to focus on the conversation, not the technology. In short, today’s businesses need immersive collaboration.

So, how can this be achieved?

Rebuilding the lines of communication

It all starts with developing a proof of concept. Set the benchmark: what problems are you currently facing, what do you want to achieve and what technologies do you use? Are you consulting employees with different needs? Think of all the test cases where you’d want to try out new technologies to help your employees and drive cost savings.

Next - experiment.

I currently manage a team from all over the world, and together we are testing and collaborating with cutting edge equipment. We’re talking wireless connectivity, wire-free display and even wireless charging. These technologies allow for a much smoother, more natural experience when we have our virtual team meetings. The notion of the wire-free workplace, where employees aren’t encumbered by cables to connect to other people, devices and power is hugely liberating, and can significantly increase efficiencies across any business.

Setting up a collaborative culture

As with all such developments, getting people on board is often the hardest part. The key thing is that any change needs to make things easier than before, and there has to be added value; for the enterprise, and for the individual. This is where it becomes so important to have that proof of concept, and to focus on making the change that is right for your business, rather than just taking on new technologies for the sake of it.

Atos is already working with companies to help them define their proof of concept, to design the framework required and to integrate the right technology with their current applications, security and systems processes. Our working relationship with Intel is particularly valuable here, as their technologies help us to offer our customers the required collaboration scenarios along with a matching support model. We also road test their products up to three years before they go into production, so can feed back on the product within the early development stages and ensure the needs of our customers are incorporated.

State of play

We are currently seeing a culmination of technologies coming together, and early adopters like the Mariott Hotels have already dipped their feet into the world of immersive collaboration, trialling wireless charging for customers. Intel too are certainly laying their stake in the ground for an immersive and wire-free future, with this week’s launch of Intel Broadwell.

The notion of immersive collaboration and the wire-free workplace is getting people excited, and for good reason; These technologies combine the benefits of virtual and mobile working with the feel and experience of the traditional, face-to-face workplace, driving your business ‘back to the future’.

In our next post we’ll be discussing the different technologies we’ll be seeing in the wire-free workplace in future.

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About John Minnick

Sr. Director, Global Strategic Technology Partner Team, Atos Distinguished Expert, Global Infrastructure & Data Management
For the past decade, John has managed a global team of enterprise architects developing the technical design principles deployed by organizations in 190 countries. His team is responsible for creating a framework for technology sourcing, innovation incubation, and integration to enhance intellectual property and drive revenue. John brings a wealth of experience in the technology sector, including CIO and management roles in engineering, manufacturing, and information technology; leadership for five start-up companies; and proficiency across a wide range of software and hardware platforms. He is a member of numerous industry councils and customer advisory boards, and leads technology standards teams. As the founding member of industry-wide teams, he has been instrumental in guiding standardization of workplace technologies with documented savings of tens of millions per year. John is the author of 17 IEEE dozens of Technical papers, featured in online and trade magazine articles, a noted reviewer of software text books, and a regular event speaker at conferences, including Siemens Summits, Microsoft TechEd, sales conferences, industry councils, and customer advisory councils. He is a Dale Carnegie certified team builder, and the winner of two graphical software development awards, as well as the coveted Tully Award for teamwork communications.  John is also an Atos Distinguished Expert and Scientific Community Blogger.

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