In this final chapter, we would like to take the liberty of speculating about the future of office information systems. Each of the technologies discussed in previous chapters is, to some extent, available in the marketplace today, although many are just beginning to get usage in realistic office environments. Chapter 9, on the other hand, discusses some technologies which are being researched in industrial laboratories, in ivory towers, or in the heads of the authors. The future is dependent upon a set of largely unforeseeable factors, many of which are non-technical such as economic pressures, government regulations, taxation policies, corporate strategies, and union strength. Although the far future is difficult to predict, some near term future trends seem clear. In particular, when we reach the stage where we can assume a user friendly workstation on every office worker’s desk, then the next generation of office systems will emerge which incorporate and leverage off of semantic knowledge about the office and knowledge based communal aids. In this chapter we elaborate upon this vision and describe some systems which incorporate parts of the vision.
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