Future Directions of the Conferencing and Collaboration Field

Future Directions of the Conferencing and Collaboration Field

Alfie Keary (Informa (Europe) Limited, Ireland) and Sam Redfern (National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/jec.2012040104
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In this paper, the authors discuss fifteen semi-structured interviews carried out in 2010 with international industry experts and thought leaders within the conferencing and collaboration (C&C) field. The interviews focused on 5, 10, and 15-year time frames, and sought to elicit predictions on the components and services of future C&C platforms, as well as organisational issues such as the likely impacts on business value chains. The authors performed Affinity Diagramming / KJ Analysis in order to assess common themes and impose structure on the information gathered in the interviews. Themes included ease of use, improved presence/social context, formalised social networking capabilities, virtual worlds, remote interactive tools, meta-knowledge / context capture, identity and trust, and key barriers to C&C uptake across organisations. Pre-conditions for maturation of the field include the emergence of interoperability and standards, and the development of corporate education policies.
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This paper emanates from a series of fifteen intensive one to one interviews with conferencing and collaboration industry experts and influential thought leaders across business, education and scientific sectors. A range of issues related to the future directions of the conferencing and collaboration (C&C) field were raised, including technical, social, organisational and educational.

Our research acts as a forecast into the short and long term directions for the C&C field as predicted by current practitioners and users. It compiles information from open-ended interviews, which had no initial fixed agenda: rather than providing a set of pre-designed questions to interviewees, we merely provided high-level topics to address. We sought to avoid pre-determining or directing themes or potential outcomes. These interviews have led to the compilation of key concepts, ideas and requirements that may not have been identified if there were a more formal interview process used.

C&C is a rapidly evolving field, stemming ultimately from developments in groupware and the academic field of computer-supported co-operative work (CSCW) in the 1980s and 1990s. We begin our paper by briefly summarising the roots of modern C&C, as well as appraising the key platforms, technologies and businesses in this space today.

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