The fourth, and final fundamental concept (refer to Barrier-free Access, Democratized Egalitarianism and the Sharing Economy) that will determine the structure for the Digital Age is Transboundary Communities. Transboundary Communities occur when digital communication platforms become an avenue for people of like minds and interests to interact. This occurs when persons collaborate to accomplish new things, all while competing for business with other individuals or with other companies on the same level. These communities allow us to connect and communicate with those close to us, regardless of geography, using different technologies to build our reality of the world around us.
These boundaryless communities exist today and will continue to develop as technology evolves. They do and will feature augmented human interactions as well as the ability to communicate with people in real time, tapping into multiple senses, to provide a richer communication experience.
More traditional devices, like the telephone, limit us to a single sense to drive our interactions, but Transboundary Communities are more immersive, using real-time video and other sensory-driven technologies for a multisensory experience. And unlike linear communications such as Facebook —you “like” a post, a friend then responds— a Transboundary Community experience is more intuitive and allows people to have a comprehensive way of communicating with each other.
A Transboundary Community has two defining elements:
- It happens in real time, in a nonlinear fashion
- It involves two or more of the five senses, as opposed to other technologies we have used in the past.
In a Transboundary Community, we can capture the moments within the conversation, share documents and ideas visually, and cultivate and develop relationships through a more engaged way of connecting. It could also include Augmented Reality or sensory experiences to socialize, meet people, and do our work. Transboundary Communities can exist at the office, home, and everywhere in between.
Transboundary Communities Today
Transboundary Communities that exist within The Sharing Economy – a model of providing and acquiring goods and services aided by a collaborative, community-based technology platform -are not just about providing information or buying products. They are also about new types of places where individuals decide how to allocate their time and talents to earn a living, work with others, compete and start new businesses, and purposefully connect with team members, friends and neighbors. People can offer skills and experiences that may or may not be compensated, and they can contribute and share knowledge.
HitRecord, an online company owned and directed by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, provides an interesting example. Here, artists collaborate on music, video, or book projects, and anyone with an internet connection can contribute. The individuals involved may not actually meet each other in person, but they are working together, adding their own creative talents and skills to the project during their free time. The best collaborative efforts are developed for sale and distribution, with everyone sharing in the royalties.
Another example of a Transboundary Community within The Sharing Economy is Nextdoor, a social application intent on reestablishing a nationwide network of private neighborhoods. Nextdoor uses technology to connect neighbors so they can share information about what is happening in town, in the church group, the book club, or in whatever else that matters most. It can also be used in emergency situations as a vital service for neighbors to share tips, help, resources and services. These social communities may be virtual but are very real for the participants involved.
Into the Future
As we near Singularity, Transboundary Communities will be omnipresent, meaning they will always be on. They will function with enhanced wearables, sensor technology and cognitive technologies, and will be driven by user experience. These Transboundary Communities will be virtual communities, but will provide a real-world experience in real time, where the digital and physical converge.
We are now starting to see this technology at work by companies like Polycom and Cisco, whose immersive platforms enable instant and immediate interactions with people who could be across the hall or five time zones away from us. Cisco’s TelePresence and Polycom’s RealPresence technologies create interactive, real-time meetings. Participants collaborate via large, high-definition video screens, along with 4k cameras and theaterquality audio. The audiovisual components come together to form a boardroom conference table in one room that is perfectly aligned and connected to the table that the other people in the meeting are sitting around, who could be at an office somewhere else in the world. This technology will only advance in the future workplace.
As we’re seeing, the way we work and communicate are changing. Democratized Egalitarianism, Barrier-free Access, The Sharing Economy, and Transboundary Communities will connect us to this new world. Within these concepts, new technologies and platforms for connecting represent a vital obligation for what both businesses must do to reimagine our future and to succeed in the years ahead.
About the Authors
Anupam Govil is an Avasant Partner, with twenty years’ experience in providing strategic advisory services to global enterprises, technology firms and private equity funds. Anupam has advised governments and investment promotion agencies across more than 40 countries on driving economic development through ICT and Digital services.
Dr. Pradeep K. Mukherji heads the firm’s Global Strategy Practice and has over 25 years of experience and expertise as an international management consultant for governments, development institutions, trade bodies and the private sector. He is a recognized thought leader in the fields of Industry Promotion and Capacity Building, Public Policy Advisory & e-Governance, ICT Strategy, Digital Innovations & Transformation and ICT Sector Investment & Promotion Strategy.