Critical.
Authoritative.
Strategic.
Subscribe to CIO Magazine »

Will Portable All-In-One PCs Be the Next Big Collaboration Tool?

One product class you'll see in the consumer space a lot next year is the portable all-in-one device. Sony has one available today, while Dell quietly launched one at Dell World earlier this month and Asustek Computer previewed a few at Computex earlier this year.

While these products clearly focus on the consumer market and digital board games, the fact is that we in the business world often conduct strategy sessions while sitting around a table, and no PC technology has embraced that concept like the portable all-in-one could. The old Surface Table that Microsoft used to sell comes closest to that collaborative ideal. The TV show Hawaii Five-0 uses a table for collaboration in exactly this way, though everyone could have just saved a lot of trouble by using the Microsoft Surface Table instead.

Given that most collaboration technologies suck at enhancing collaboration, it would be fascinating if a technology designed for a completely different purpose did a better job.

Sitting Around the Table

To foster collaboration King Arthur created the round table so no one person, not even the King, was superior position to anyone else. Hundreds of years later, we seem to be unable to recreate this simple concept.

Feature: 15 Hot Windows 8 Hybrid Notebooks and Tablets

Today's presentation tools put the presenter in front of the group, standing in a clearly superior position to the audience. Either only a few folks are brave enough to ask questions, validating the speakers' informal or formal relative power and authority, or the questions do their best to belittle the subject or the speaker and challenge that authority. Next time you're in a meeting, there's one person presenting and he or she is seen as a peer, you'll likely see this behavior.

This is likely one of the primary reasons, though far from the only one, we tend to have lots of meetings where nothing really gets done-the events focus on either affirming situational power (and leader of the pack mentality) or showcasing that it doesn't exist.

If folks could sit around the table, have equal access to the technology and use the presentation or medium equally to share ideas and suggest changes, this could offset somewhat our natural tendency to compete for status.

All-In-One PCs a Bit More Portable Than a Table

I've spent a number of years playing with the Microsoft Surface Table and thinking through use cases largely because I've been trying to buy one for years and need to justify it. The Hawaii Five-0 Podcast Blog showcases the table's use: Detectives working through a case have equal access to the technology and can work through ideas on the surface of the table collaboratively. Imagine this same capability if you were working to design a car, a building or a marketing campaign. In fact, there are few collaborative activities that this might not help with.

The issue with tables such as this is that they are pretty expensive and not at all set up for the activities I'm talking about. But take a PC, give it these capabilities, make it portable and give it a touch screen, and suddenly you have a device that can sit in the middle of the table, get passed around, be seen and encourage collaboration.

Analysis: Is it a Laptop? A Tablet? Whatever, PC Makers Just Hope You'll Buy it

This could work for bigger groups, too, by connecting this new class of PC wirelessly to a projector so people can still follow along. Even people working remotely could connect to the room through video conferencing and then share in the work product through linked tablets that let the groups interact. This would allow the experience to transcend geographies and, properly integrated, get people to use these expensive video conferencing systems more often.

The Next Big Thing for the Enterprise?

There is a lot of potential for this new PC form factor to dramatically change the way we collaborate in the enterprise. Since AMD was the core technology in the Surface Table, this may be one of the company's best near-term opportunities to create a new market for its wares.

Regardless, I think this class of product is worth exploring as a collaboration alternative, especially since you could use it after hours to play some interesting and unique games-though using a Surface Table for traffic control would be a bad idea.

Rob Enderle is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. Previously, he was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group. Prior to that he worked for IBM and held positions in Internal Audit, Competitive Analysis, Marketing, Finance and Security. Currently, Enderle writes on emerging technology, security and Linux for a variety of publications and appears on national news TV shows that include CNBC, FOX, Bloomberg and NPR.

Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.

Read more about collaboration in CIO's Collaboration Drilldown.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Comments are now closed.
Related Coverage
Related Whitepapers
Latest Stories
Community Comments
Tags: applications, Microsoft, software, IT Organization, Asustek Computer, sony, collaboration, microsoft surface, all-in-one PC, IT Organization | Collaboration, Dell
Latest Blog Posts
Whitepapers
  • Pathways Advanced ICT Leadership Development Program Course Outline and Big 6 2013
    Developed by the CIO executive Council in conjunction with Rob Livingstone Advisory, Pathways Advanced is a 12-month CIO delivered, small group, mentor based professional leadership development program. Pathways Advanced brings together best practice, thought leadership and business insights for today’s most promising ICT professionals
    Learn more »
  • How to Successfully Select an ERP System
    An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a series of software applications that collect and compiles data from different departments to enhance collaboration and co-ordination within the business. If you’re looking to implement your first ERP system, or to upgrade from an existing system, this whitepaper offers eight simple steps for selection that will lead to long-term strategic success.
    Learn more »
  • Delphix and Pure Storage Team to Super-Charge Database Deployments
    This webcast presentation, prepared by Delphix and Pure storage, explores super-charge database deployments and how they can aid business strategy. The presentation details the main features of a new flash solution – high performance, inline data reduction, resilience and scalability, and the value of simplicity. Viewers can learn how to put an end to inefficient or delayed QA, Sharing DB environments, using DB subsets and slow environment builds.
    Learn more »
All whitepapers
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to Invitation only events CIO, reports & analysis.
Latest Jobs
Salary Calculator

Supplied by

View the full Peoplebank ICT Salary & Employment Index

Recent comments