It's important sometimes to step back from the obvious trends and look at things that lie just beyond the light. So in addition to the clear trends in play: mobilizing the entire collaboration toolkit, moving collaboration services to the cloud (often in support of mobile work); and consolidating collaboration workloads onto a full-featured collaboration platform, here are six counterintuitive trends for 2011 (for more detail and an analysis of what content & collaboration professionals should do, please read the full report available to Forrester clients or by credit card):

  1. Consumerization gets board-level approval. Consumerization is inevitable; your response is not. In 2011, tackle this head on. (And read our book, Empowered, while you're at it — it has a recipe for business success in the empowered era, a world in which customers and employees have power.)
  2. The email inbox gets even more important. I know the established wisdom is for email to get less relevant as Gen Y tweets their way to business collaboration. But come on, look at all the drivers of email: feeds from social media, universal, pervasive on any device. Email's here to stay. But it's time to reinvent the inbox. IBM and Google are leading this charge.
  3. The cloud cements its role as the place for collaboration innovation. The cloud is better for mobile, telework, and distributed organizations. And cloud collaboration services will get better faster than on-premise alternatives. Full stop. The math isn't hard to do. A quarterly product release cycle beats four-year upgrade cycles and every time.
  4. The personal cloud starts to encroach on your content strategy. Consumers, AKA employees, use Internet services to manage their content and communications across all their devices and environments, what we call the personal cloud. Your mission will be to support an enterprise-ready personal cloud solution. Think Dropbox, YouSendIt, or Forrester customers, see my colleague Frank Gillett's work on personal cloud.
  5. Personal videoconferencing comes in the employee door. There is a tsunami of video chat lurking just outside the corporate network. Fueled by Skype, Apple FaceTime, Google Talk, ooVoo, and Microsoft Live Messenger, consumers are ready. These consumers are your employees, so expect a tsunami of consumerization and demand.
  6. Tablets drive consumerization faster than IT can respond. iPad's ascendent, and 80 tablets were announced at CES. They're coming fast and furious. See the Forrester report on how tablets enter the workforce.

What are your counterintuitive collaboration trends?