One key driver of convergence is the cloud. As more and more enterprise workers interact with data in the cloud, there is less and less to tie them to their desk and to their legacy PCs and laptops.
Google recently entered the storage and collaboration market with Google Drive, which is one more nail in the coffin of the legacy enterprise network. Initially, Google Drive is accessible from PCs, Macs or those mobile devices that happen to run Android.
While on the surface, Google Drive might seem like cloud-based storage, it is actually a way to allow more and more people to adopt Google Docs, the company’s online collaboration suite. While a number of companies recognize the value of real-time document creation and collaboration (allowing users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), the collaborative paradigm breaks down when users need to work with a non-Google document. Now, with Google Drive added to the mix, that becomes less of an issue.
Larry Hettick, who writes on convergence and VoIP at NetworkWorld, opined that “When adding Google Drive to Google Docs and Google Voice, we may see some of the basic elements needed to create a consumer-grade unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platform.” That said, Hettick notes that Google’s approach is still not ready for the enterprise, but it is getting close.
There will come a tipping point where enough functionality exists in cloud-based office suite offerings that the benefit of online collaboration outweighs the drawbacks of limited functionality and possible unavailability. With the tablet overtaking the PC in terms of sales, I would expect that we will see that within the next five years.