Jack Wallen takes a look at convergent technology, which is the tendency for different technological systems to evolve toward performing similar tasks.
Imagine, if you will, that divide between your tablet, smartphone, and desktop has been removed. The resulting efficiency would bring new meaning to mobility. Users would no longer have to concern themselves with syncing devices in order to keep contacts or data up to date — it would just happen. End users would seamlessly move between their devices, and administrators would have less variance to support.
This technological dreamscape is actually closer than you think. Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu Linux) made a valiant effort with the indiegogo campaign for Ubuntu Edge. With its Ubuntu Touch interface, Canonical will finally make this all a reality. The same interface between tablet, phone, and desktop will also help users easily sync data between their devices.
Of course, convergent technology isn't just the seamless movement between devices — it's also the same type of elegant ability for data to transcend the boundaries that the tradition technology metaphor holds.
If you're still not convinced, here are five ways that convergent technology could help transform mobile business in 2014.
1. Seamless transition between mobile device and desktop
One of the most common issues I've had to tackle with mobility is the syncing of data. Most mobile users have data on their desktops that they most likely will need on their mobile devices. This doesn't, of course, mean every byte of data would/should be permanently sync'd on both devices. It does, however, mean the convergent technology will make it far easier for those users to have the data they want on multiple devices. If Canonical has its way, it will only be a matter of docking a tablet or smartphone so that the data is automatically in sync.
2. "Always on" data
Convergent technology means that the end result will enable more machines and more devices to enjoy an “always on” data flow. With a continuous flow of data nearly everywhere, it will be far easier to quantify and report on data from more sources. Data has become one of the most precious commodities produced by technology. It helps companies better hone their products and PR, which directly affects their bottom line.
3. Less is more
The less technology that users have to carry with them, the better — and as technology evolves, mobile users have less to carry. Remember the days of carrying a PDA, laptop, phone, and a source of music? Those days are already gone. Now, mobile users are carrying tablets and smartphones, and not much more. Those two technologies alone enable mobile users to do most of their jobs. Eventually, convergence will reach the point where mobile users will carry a single device that will be perfectly capable of doing every aspect of their jobs. Of course, once the singularity occurs, technology will do our jobs for us.
4. Even smarter machines
Convergent technology will not just affect tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Your cars, televisions, appliances, and homes can also benefit as technology begins to merge into a constantly-evolving, single-celled amoeba. Your house will benefit from having the upgraded hardware, and it will be in constant contact with your desktop and/or your mobile device to keep you informed of what's going on. Imagine being able to keep track of your wattage used in order to verify your electricity bill before you send it in. Or if you're on vacation, and you want to know the status of your doors, windows, and HVAC. Although this is already possible, once convergence hits full steam, those features and services will become more efficient and will cross the borders of device and platform.
5. Better, faster person-to-person and data-to-person communication
As I mentioned earlier, data is going to become an even more integral part of the business world once convergence takes center stage. Devices and machines (and buildings) will more readily share data with one another. Other forms of data sharing that convergence will aid include: Human-to-human, human-to-device, device-to-server, server-to-server, and so much more. As technology converges, the demand put on data flow will increase dramatically. This means developers will have to make that flow of data as fast and efficient as possible. The creation of more efficient data flow will have the added benefit of making the machines that use the data more powerful and efficient.
Convergence is happening. The tools we use every day are drawing closer together, and the data they provide will continue to drive both business and pleasure forward faster than ever. I, for one, am excited about the possibility of the seamless transition between tablet, smartphone, and desktop that Canonical might well bring to us by the end of 2014.
What are your thoughts about convergent technology? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.