What does the future of the internet hold? Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a dramatically different internet in five years:  dominated by social networks, real-time user generated content, Chinese language, and super fast 100mb + bandwidth.   No doubt, all of these innovations will also change the way businesses, employees, and customers interact.

Here is an excepted 6 min version of the full 45 minute talk:

Here are some of the highlights from the talk:

  • Five years from now the internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content.
  • Today’s teenagers are the model of how the web will work in five years – they jump from app to app to app seamlessly.
  • Five years is a factor of ten in Moore’s Law, meaning that computers will be capable of far more by that time than they are today.
  • Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance – and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away. We are already starting to see governments make long term commitments towards 100 mbit/s broadband. The Swedish government is promising that 90 percent of Swedish home will have access before 2020.
  • “We’re starting to make significant money off of Youtube”, content will move towards more video.
  • “Real time information is just as valuable as all the other information, we want it included in our search results.”
  • “We can index real-time info now – but how do we rank it?”
  • It’s because of this fundamental shift towards user-generated information that people will listen more to other people than to traditional sources. Learning how to rank that “is the great challenge of the age.” Schmidt believes Google can solve that problem.

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What implications does this have on business collaboration? Where will online business collaboration fit into the mix? How will they innovate by leveraging web trends and technology across all business sectors and consumer markets?

Here are some of the trends happening now:

Cloud computing and file storage:

There has been a recent explosion leveraging cloud computing technology that brings affordable and powerful computing to anyone, on-demand.  It is no longer necessary to invest in expensive servers and hosting services in order to get started. Further, we are starting to see more and more businesses leverage cloud storage to sync data across desktops computers, laptops, mobile phone, televisions, and more, making it easy for companies to work remotely through satellite offices.  As businesses continue to grow more comfortable with storing their data in the cloud, innovation will continue rapidly in this space.

Real-time document sharing and editing:

Writely, now known as Google Docs, started this innovation by allowing for the remote editing and storage of documents and spreadsheets by anyone, anywhere, with a web browser. Google has definitely pushed this innovation, forcing Microsoft to respond with a soon to be released version of Office that continues to push this space. Online document collaboration is hugely powerful as businesses can remain efficient while on the go or working remotely.

Integrating social networks with business networks:

Linked-in has started this. However, I think there is still tremendous room for growth in this area. Successfully combining social networks into the workplace, while also being delicate to separate personal and work communication, will be the key to success here. Social networks will continue to dominate the space, as people will be able to take their “social-graph” with them anywhere they go. As strong as the applications are for this within e-commerce, they are equally powerful for finding quality and well-match employees and referrals.  Maybe innovations here will mean the end to all of those terrible, and impersonal job listing websites.

What innovations in business collaboration will we see in five years? How is your business using the internet to innovate communication and collaboration practices today?


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