I recently returned from a long vacation in Europe. Aside from reconnecting with my family, the vacation gave me a great opportunity to step back a little and reflect on what the new year may hold. As you may (or may not) know, I spend a lot of my time writing novels, but I am also technology junkie. I own just about every gadget you can think of, and even some long since relegated to some dusty upper shelf; although I still pull out my trusty Newton and take it for a spin whenever i feel nostalgic.
The Netwon started me thinking. First, my mind wandered back to the Star7, one of the genesis points of Java; then fast forwarded to the recent CES conference, where the impressive array of e-readers was of particular interest to me as the publishing industry faces a do-or-die shift to electronic media and delivery.
I sat back in the coffee shop in downtown Munich, chewing on a pretzel, contemplating what all of this technology meant: how will it shape the future? what will be the next big thing? The answer, as always, was right in front of my face: Platforms which embrace collaboration.
Sure it may seem a logical revelation considering I spend an great deal of my time working on the Force.com platform, but I decided to look at the power of platforms a little differently. First, if we take the e-reader/publishing scenario for example. e-readers are just the destination, the bigger opportunity is in the marketplace behind it. This is why Amazon and their Kindle are so powerful: they have such a deep marketplace to draw from. Taking another look, the real opportunity Kindle and ereaders provides is an opportunity for many more authors to have their work available and publishers (not to mention, previously out of print works which is one area where Google is focusing with their Google Books Library Project)
So if the real opportunity is even further downstream with authors. They need rich collaboration tools to do this. A few great example in the publishing world are webook, and fastpencil. Both of these sites embrace collaboration, and do it all in the cloud.
This is where I brought my thought process back to Salesforce and the Force.com Platform. Over the past two years the number of apps, partners, lines of code and developers has grown dramatically. The result is a very strong ecosystem full of potential. But the game changed with the announcement of Chatter, and integration with Google Wave, I see amazing opportunity. This year, just as I have been doing with my writing, is to really embrace collaboration. I am not just talking about social networking. I am talking about collaborative development: More and more disparate teams contributing to codeshare projects, developers working on cookbooks, online webinars and more. I see so many opportunities for amazing apps, and game-changing opportunities (one little idea I am working on at home in my copious spare time will hopefully lead this charge) that has not been addressed yet. And they only will be if we take community participation and collaboration to the next level.