PLM Wave Or “Good Enough” Collaboration

PLM Wave Or “Good Enough” Collaboration

Six months ago, I posted “Collaboration Trends or Why I Stopped Using Google Wave?“. After Google’s announcement about Google Wave termination yesterday, I read it again. Actually, I found it very consistent to my feeling back in January 2010. Here is my top 4 list of Google Wave problems:  (1) Isolation. (2) Another application to run. (3) Documents and other Google App integration. (4) Inbox management.

In all streams of information related to Google’s decision about the wave, the following tweet got my top score. If you remember, Google Wave supposed to re-invent email. During all of my experiments with Google Wave, I wanted to bring it back to my email. Does it mean email is so good?

Email and “Good Enough” Principle

How many times when you asked a developer about a particular feature, you’ve heard the following answer – “but, this is cool…”? I agree, coolness is a definitely important factor. However, when it comes to some zones in our life, coolness is not what we expect. There is something I call – mainstream communication. Email is part of this. You want to have a predictable result from sending email. Email works in a seamless way. Email is the one, I need. Yes, it is 20 years old with almost no change. But sometimes, it is simply “good enough”.

“False Start” and Collaboration Demands

I’m sure you are familiar with the term – “false start“. I think we have a sort of false start in many efforts related to collaboration. When it comes to phone calls, chat, video, screen sharing it seems to me reasonable. However, sometime, we need to take a breath and… think. Not to collaborate, but think. Therefore, one of the Google Wave features, such as, “typing together” – a cool Google Wave feature, can be considered as a ‘false start’. And this is not the only one…

PLM Collaboration

Some of  my initial thoughts about PLM collaboration in the context of what happened with Google Wave. I see lots of them are ‘false starts’. It is related to multiple situations when “collaborate” is a goal in products we are making. However, don’t forget – collaboration is just a tool to get results. So, to have it email like, maybe not a bad idea at all.

What is my conclusion? One of Google’s principles of “good enough” solution worked against Google with Wave. Email is good enough. There is no need for Wave. Despite the face, people hate email, I think, most of the people are feeling very comfortable with an email solution and new “sparkling” Google Wave innovation was only a new toy to play with. Users voted for proven old fashioned email to stay in their comfort zone. I think, there are some lessons learned to all PLM innovators in the “social collaboration” space. I will come with some of my thoughts about that later.

Best, Oleg


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  • Google Wave’s technology will live on in many web-based products to come. The team pushed HTML to the limit to show what is possible in the browser. I never thought Wave was going to get mass adoption but the technology was created searching for a problem to solve instead of today’s goals of solving problems.
    Google’s way of rollout was not a masterpiece of marketing and I think they made a mistake at Google I/O 2009 to say it would replace email. At the time of the preview, everyone did use it for social reasons (especially since there were some fundamental security flaws) but as it matured it got much better but still not solving specific solutions.
    Wave was more of a framework lending itself to definition by developers (thus the bots and gadgets). Wave had 1,000,000 active users, which is a lot but to Google that is not enough when players like Twitter (190M) and Facebook (500M) are providing online experiences. Even compared to their other services it was just not understood by enough and the use cases were unlimited, which doesn’t appeal to the masses.
    The code is open and I have a dev version running. I think we will see it littered throughout Google’s products (Docs now does live typing) and Buzz (treaded discussions) as well as other vendors to come. It was a fun ride (I think I enjoyed it more than most since I have used it daily since launch). ~Lou

  • beyondplm

    Lou, Thank you for your comments! I agree, many technologies that established as part of Google Wave are continuing and will be re-used in other products. Code is open too. My point was mainly around “GW” as a product as well as the “email re-invention”. I’ve seen a very strong similarity with some of “collaboration” projects engineering software is having on our side. Best, Oleg