In the Future
"In the future, pattern-recognition capabilities will also enable the software to deduce the users activity from context clues and automatically configure the interface and information environment with tools and content appropriate to the activity," Gruver said. Context awareness will result in software that can better simulate the "common sense" that humans use to recognize what information is helpful and relevant, so that search results are more targeted and disruptive background activities do not interrupt people while they are focused on other tasks, he said.The CIW also shows how advances in machine learning and pattern recognition will further automate the implementation of business rules and preferences, while software will be able to use pattern-recognition and machine-learning algorithms to dynamically sort and personalize environmental variables, as well as search results and information based on user needs and behaviors.On the search front, emerging technologies use metadata, data assigned to each object within an information environment, to make searches more relevant and responsive, while data that carries tags with metadata that are staticlike a document author or date of creation--as well as dynamic--such as rights management status and embedded applications--help solve some of the problems associated with versioning and access, Gruver said. Users may also in the future get the ability to cache search queries and receive notifications when relevant resultseven results beyond the scope of the original queryhave been added or updated. In addition, implicit queries will provide users with proactive links to people, content and data as they relate to the task at hand. Among the prototype technologies on view at the CIW during the tour is the data lens technology, which allows the user to view large pieces of information and documents on smaller screens; and Microsoft RoundTable, a collaboration and communication tool with a 360-degree camera that promises to deliver an immersive conferencing experience that extends the meeting room across multiple locations. "Microsofts Unified Communications Group, which is focused on simplifying communication and giving people more control over how, where and when they communicate, will continue to develop RoundTable and is scheduled to bring the technology to market in 2007," Gruver said. To read more about Microsofts Unified Communications Group, click here. The CIW also makes use of electronic whiteboarding, which lets people in different locations interact as if they were in a conference room together, using tablet and keyboard input to contribute to a shared space in real time. Automating the archival and retention of all collaboration activities, from team sites and discussion threads to instant messages, meeting activities and application-sharing sessions, in a single logical repository, also helped facilitate compliance and enable knowledge management, he said. "To help our customers boost their individual and corporate productivity, we must continually increase our understanding of the demands facing information workers today as well as the trends shaping the new world of work. The newly expanded CIW is our companywide think tank for cultivating that knowledge and applying it to the next generation of software-based productivity tools," Gruver said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.