(Via Knowledge@wharton) Hossein Eslambolchi, president of AT&T's Global Networking Technology Services sees "Something fundamentally big is happening that will profoundly affect the life of every person and every business over the next five to 15 years - the collapsing of everything into one single, global, ubiquitous, collaborative virtual IT world." Forces in technology in operation are driving computing from a centralized model to a decentralized one, from the center to the 'edge.' These forces, which demand new systems and business models, represent both threat and opportunity. The network will take over the headache of managing disparate technologies - will be like having a conference call with four people, each speaking a different language with the network rapidly translating everything into English.
Supporting such collaborative work will be an intelligent computer network in the center - "the basis for everything" - with equally 'smart' devices such as phones and computers at the edge. Collaboration will dominate both the technology and the workplace. The network shall constitute a virtual office. With millions of workers telecommuting, the trend will accelerate as a result of the convergence of voice, data and text in mobile devices - laptops, PDAs, cell phones - where they will operate based on software applications collaborating seamlessly, without effort on the user's part. The security problems may also grow exponentially in an increasingly networked world. With basic connectivity now assumed, and so much technology moving into the hands of users, "we're entering an era in which people are participating rather than just receiving information," says Jonathan Swartz, president of Sun Microsystems & adds "The PC revolution has been about empowering users and consumers; now the enterprise has to take them and their new tools into consideration in new ways. Instead of just connecting India to the network, India will now actually participate in creating market opportunities. And, a billion people with cell phones are going to have a massive impact on the IT enterprise."
In this networked, collaborative world, telecommunications is no longer equipment; instead it is software. There has been a huge scale-up in the complexity of computing," said IBM's Alan Ganek, head of the company's autonomic computing initiative, "which has resulted in businesses spending more and more money on maintaining and managing their systems. "No one product will solve the problem. We will need architectures, standards, software 'advisors' that help make systems self-managing, similar to the human body's autonomic nervous system." "Trust is the currency of the participation age," added Sun's Jonathan Schwartz. 10 years from now, your laptop will be authenticated the same way as your cell phone is today. And just as you can check the numbers of those calling you before you take the call, you'll be able to choose to view only authenticated email.There's lots of innovation bound to come.