Nine Ways Google Wave Can Alter the Course of Collaboration

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Nine Ways Google Wave Can Alter the Course of Collaboration

by Clint Boulton

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Todays UCC Apps Are Siloed

We rely so heavily on communications tools to work with our colleagues. We have e-mail for the bulk of our messaging. We have instant messaging when we need to immediately connect. We use video-sharing applications. We have a slew of file managers, wikis and blogs. But these applications are all separate silos. Wave could be the next step in how we collaborate because it places all of these tools in one window.

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Easier Conversation Management

By putting all of the communications and document-sharing tools at our fingertips on one workflow palette, Google is imbuing consumers and the working world with a great deal of power and control.

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With Power Comes Great Responsibility

But as they say for superheroes in comic books, that power comes with great responsibility. Will users be able to effectively use the waves, or hosted conversations, to exchange information in an efficient way, or will their information exchanges get bottlenecked by the multiple communication modes in one interface?

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Not So Fast

While it is easy to get excited about the potential of Wave, bloggers who have tested the prototype are saying there is a steep learning curve involved. The interface is complex, and the conversations are unpredictable and free form. It may take a few uses for people to shift to the new paradigm.

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Live Typing!

For example, remember the days when you composed an e-mail, reread it (or should have) and then sent it? Wave lets users see what you're typing as you're typing it, so users will have to get used to thinking fast and prudent when participating in waves.

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Wave Is Open Source!

So many of the leading communications tools, such as Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Gmail and many instant messaging clients, are not based on open-source technologies. Programmers can't play around with the code or iterate on these programs. Google is already open sourcing Wave, which will enable developers to build on top of it. This could lead to great, crowdsourced innovations in the future.

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Google Is Still the Wave God

Wave may be open source, but just as the company hosts Google Apps to take the infrastructure pains away from customers, Google will host Wave. How will users feel about one company lording over all of their real-time communications and collaboration data? Our guess is that those who trust Google Apps and the cloud in general will be satisfied. However, a lot of people still don't place their faith in one company to house all data.

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Wave Will Spur Self-Hosted Solutions

Furthering that point, innovators may take the concept of Wave and build similar solutions that their customers can choose to self-host, away from Google's servers. For example, Microsoft is letting customers self-host its Office Web alternative to Google Apps on their own servers. Will Microsoft create its own waves for customers to self-host?

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What About My Google Apps?

Experts and pundits expect Wave could be integrated with Google Apps, augmenting the suite of Webmail, chat, calendar wiki and video applications. Google Apps boasts much integration among Gmail, contacts and calendars, but the Wave model could enable users to add video, wiki and other features to the mix. How will Google Apps and Google Wave work together, if at all?