Collaboration Trends or Why I Stopped Using Google Wave?

Collaboration Trends or Why I Stopped Using Google Wave?

We tend to use word “collaboration” very often in Product Lifecycle Management and related fields. Collaborative Design, Collaboration Product Data Management, Collaborative… I want to discuss how I see the world of collaboration can probably change in the future. The following four trends are my take on what will happen in the area of collaboration.

1. Infrastructure maturing.
This is obvious and not. In my view, the biggest collaborative infrastructure move for the last few years was introducing of “Unified Collaboration”. However, I think, this trend will continue and Cisco, Microsoft and others will provide more and more infrastructure solutions for the market.

2. Device-less. Collaboration will need to lose religious connection to the specific device. Growing cloud computing and improvements in the multiple device will disconnect collaboration from the “collaborative device”. We will collaborate using mobile phone, PDA, Tablet, via Internet, on multiple devices in your office.

3. Going beyond applications. The context will become The King Of Collaboration. However, you need to have rich set of information in your hands in order to set up context for collaboration. Such set of information in PLM can come only from multiple applications – requirements, analyzes, design, manufacturing planning, etc. Collaborative tools will need to go beyond a specific application to be really useful in the future.

4. Collaboration – not social. I think the name for “social” inside of organization is “collaboration”. It will take some time to understand it, but this is really true. In place of social networks, friends, connections, etc. will come organizational structures and collaborative work. However, lots of social nets practices will be adopted for new collaborative organizations.

5. Growth in enterprise search. I think, enterprise search will need to learn from success of web search. Today is still not happening. However, as much as organizations produce more and more data, search will become an important function. Today search is the commodity and very primitive in organization and new collaborative application will have to change it.

Now, how it related to Google Wave? The Alpha preview of Google Wave was announced last year on I/O conference and got a lot of visibility, discussions and speculation. It was the fist time, after introducing of Google Mail, people have tried to get Google Wave invitation even for money. Few month later after initial I/O demo, Google released about 100’000+ invitation and, in my view, satisfied the need of researching communities. Now, the ugly truth is that despite huge expectations related to how Google Wave can improve and change people collaboration, for the moment, it doesn’t happen.

What are top failures of Google Wave, for the moment?

1. Isolation. Google Wave is terrible connected to the outside world. The technological promise is in place, but practically it still not happened in beta/alpha versions. It will take time to develop all connections that allow GW to become part of your day-to-day work.

2. Another application to run. This is related to previous point. But, today, you need to run it, follow this application, etc. This is like another mail. Somewhat you need to spend more time to work on…

3. Documents and other Google App integration. This is a place where Google needs to learn from Microsoft, in my view. Microsoft’s folks did a great job integrating SharePoint and Office Apps. Google Wave need to do the same with Google Apps. This will be part of their mutual success.

4. Inbox management. This is similar to mail inbox. And need to be improved. I still don’t know how, but feels like we cannot drag old email inbox problems into new collaborative world :).. This is a place to innovate.

So, what is my conclusion today? I think we will see growing interest in collaborative platforms and application in coming couple of years. However, organization will hardly accept “yet another application to collaborate”. The platform trend will be very strong and will require certain integration and “collaboration” inside of organization. The ideas of social networks, enterprise 2.0 will be proliferating in the organization and mature in the way of open collaborative platforms.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg


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  • I like the list, Oleg. And I agree completely. Two more things that I think will drive collaboration trends in the future are somewhat related.

    – Data Abstraction: When most people think of collaboration today, they think of single-document data sets. For example, if you go to a lot of Sharepoint servers at companies you will see various PDF, WORD or PPT files on the shelves. That’s fine for a specific type of collaboration. But high-end products typically have higher-end data sets. Single-document collaboration is not enough in those areas. There are much larger data sets of complex, composite data to share in a growing audience along the design chain. But it’s not just a matter of moving data around. Intelligent collaboration requires putting the right data in the hands of the right audience. Data abstraction allows you to provide a view to complex data in a way that specific consumers can use. Designers may need complex technical views of libraries while sales and marketing may need feature or financial views of that same data. I see the organization and representation of related data from one or more sources in more consumable formats as being a key.

    – IP Protection: From what I’ve seen, those serious in collaborative products need to come to the realization that today’s social applications are not a model that matches well with the growing focus on IP protection. Applications like Facebook and Twitter are nice from an external marketing point of view (gather interest and feedback from large groups of people) or even from an ideation model of internal groups. But unless IP Protection is integrated into any collaborative model, true collaborative product design won’t fly. I doubt if a leading edge computer chip company wants to expose their “secret sauce” to anyone. There are multiple layers of contracts, network protocols and even physical security at companies today. (There was more security in my last visit to a Korean semiconductor company than most US airports.) Their IP is not going up into the cloud unless there are some serious improvements to how that data will be protected.

    As always, I enjoy your posts. Keep them coming.


  • Rick, Thanks for your comment! Agree with your points… the way we manage data for collaboration need to be different from simple document collaboration and all need to be secured. Best, Oleg

  • Lou Gallo

    In it’s current state, Google Wave lacks many essential integrations and securities, but the promise of communication consolidation and multiple-system integration is what is of interest. The fact that the protocols is federated and the spec is open allows other providers to create their own Wave-like services and implement many of the needed requirements for various industries.
    I personally have built a wave server and can federate with the development preview which gives promise to the potiential spread of this new framework of communication.
    Personally I use Wave a lot but I would like Wave to become the client to many of my other services to consolidate. With the extensibility of the platform, the options are truely endless.
    It will be interesting what effort Google will put into Wave in 2010 and if they listen to the feedback their users have given.

  • Prasad

    Oleg, I agreed with ur views. I think in PLM industry we are working on 2 fronts or collaboration of 2 things.
    First is collaboration of department (enterprise) which is our aim & then on back end all software companies working on collaboration of software.
    So this 2nd collaboration taking much of our time rather than concentrating on first one. So many platforms, so many technologies , so many combination consuming so much time & so much money. We need common platform solutions to concentrate on our core goal of collaboration.

  • Daniel

    Interesting, normally I like your blog as it introduces outside thinking to a rather structural and old fashioned plm subject. A number of your posts have introduced the concept of social media and collaboration as a function of Plm trends, including the concept of google wave.

    However, I’m not sure if this post contridicts your previous posts, or if the previous posts represent the lack of evaluation of google wave in context of PLM needs.

    While I don’t disagree with your comments, it kinda feels that they are comments for the sake of commenting, without specific value.

  • Lou, Thank you for your comment and agree with your analyzes. As for today, Google Wave looks like a great promise, however lack of connection to the outside world make it useless, except discovering ideas and thinking about potential scenarios. I’ve seen multiple use cases and betas of product to integrate and ride on top of wave, and it looks promising too. The biggest promise of GW is openness and potential to replace SMPT servers. If such trend will start to happen, it will be the road to success… Best, Oleg

  • Prasad, I agree with your analyzes. The second group (I’d not call it collaboration, but application integration complexity), kills all enterprise software implementations. I don’t see it the typical problem of PLM – this is the problem almost in every segment of enterprise software. Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

  • Daniel, Thanks for this interesting question. In general, many of my posts are an introduction of a specific PLM-related problem and way to resolve it using different approaches. This specific post was a reflection of my experience with Google Wave and, if you will, thinking about the same topic again. Last year, I’ve been very excited about GW. When I got GW invitation, I made lots of experience, but the most interesting – I started to use GW in my everyday life. Usually, this is the best one (i.e.. I remember, back 8-9 years ago, when we started to use SmarTeam inside of R&D to manage our own processes, we found a lot of interesting issues that we wanted to fix). What I found, that my GW usage down to zero level, and I moved back to gmail. So, I started to analyze it – the post was a result of analyzes. I still see a potential of Google Wave. However, I think the entry barrier will be higher than I expected in the beginning. I hope I answered your question. I’m looking forward to seeing you on blog. Best, Oleg

  • Daniel

    Oleg, I appreciate your reply and agree whole heartedly.

    However, I definately applaud you on taking the topic head-on and validating with your own real life r&d.

    I also had heard of smarteam’s internal usage, and the suprises that where revealed as a result using it in real life. Maybe an interesting topic “PLM vendors leveraging PLM to manage their products”

    thanks for your insite.

  • Daniel: Good idea, a little bit history for the moment. I think, usage of product you develop, is “the must” activity for any company. Don’t take it to the extreme, of course :), I’m talking mostly about software, but I heard about such experience from many of our customers. Best, Oleg

  • I can’t comment on Google Wave, but you top 5 shortlist is excellent. However, I believe that it is missing a critical 6th point, or */appendix/waiver.

    The success of your points is dependent upon people collaborating better online versus online. We have proved that we can collaborate better online with friends (Facebook) but in reality, we may share documents better and send details through more instant communication devices, but we still sit in the same meetings to discuss the same things and are incredibly un-productive.

    When and how will we improve. We developed to improve the way we work together and create some synergies between the online and off-line collaboration worlds.

    I would be interested in collaborating with you in to turning your ideas into actionable items for both sides of the connected collaboration!

  • Brandon, Thanks for your comments! The idea of various types of collaboration and combination between them is an interesting approach. Starting for the basic question – to call vs. to send an email? I will take a look on your site… Welcome to PLM Think Tank! Best, Oleg

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