Does Google Wave Represent the next “Wave” in Communication and Collaboration?

I watched with interest the screencast of Google’s Announcement of their new product called “Google Wave” at the recently concluded Google I/O Conference. Google I/O is the search giant’s annual developer event in San Francisco and was the perfect venue for their launch of a product they envision to be a new platform and really brings with it a new paradigm for communication and collaboration.

Google Wave (currently in developer preview) essentially brings together in a single place all channels for communication or collaboration a user may need such as Email, IM, Blogging, Microblogging and others. So what you may ask? Aren’t there a lot of unified communication applications (ie Skype)/messaging aggregators (ie Digsby, Pidgin)/content management systems (ie Sharepoint) that do the same thing?

Well not quite. Google Wave (from my understanding) does it in a slightly different, and ultimately more interesting and clever way: they treat each type of communication (be it text, posts, images, videeo, URLs, etc.) as discrete objects, which can be be presented, manipulated, aggregated, and distributed in countless ways and in real-time. They have come up with their own protocol to allow for easier federation and aggregation, and possibly faster transmission, unencumbered by the “legacy” limitations of other communication protocols (such as email) or proprietary limitations of other protocols (such as IM and Skype). They allow “hooks” into that data so that third party developers can easily extend it (ie on-the-fly spell checking, translation) or integrate it with other applications (ie posting on blogs such as Blogger, posting in microblogs such as Twitter, presenting on social networks or portals such as Facebook or Orkut), and other forms of data (ie video and photos). They really thought out the user experience, and really push the boundaries of what can be done today by programming using the web (they use HTML 5 and use the Google Web Toolkit as their presentation framework).

The best thing about Google Wave? Its completely open (as in open standards and open source) so that there will be no encumbrance to (Google hopes) its wide spread adoption. You can deploy it on-premise (behind the corporate firewall) or use it in the cloud (on Google’s own servers) and federate the servers so that servers can still inter-operate or communicate. In that way it is similar to email.

Its difficult to describe just what  Google Wave is all about. Check out this video demonstration so you can see and learn more about it for yourself:

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The Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament

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Image via Wikipedia

Here is another showdown–this time between collaboration software vendors. Interesting in that it has a tournament style presentation format (ala Streetfighter or K1) and pits large on-premise software vendors such as IBM and Microsoft, with small, up and coming vendors such as pure-SaaS provider Zoho.

This was developed by Yankee Group. Read more below:

The Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament

Although the buzzer-beaters and Cinderella surprises of the NCAA college basketball tournament have been put to rest for 2008, Yankee Group revisited March Madness in the business collaboration vendor landscape.This season marks the inaugural Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament. Based on the framework we’ve developed, the tournament will crown the technology vendor with the most comprehensive business collaboration solution the champion of 2008.

In addition, in this Report we also announce the Yankee Group All-Tournament Team and Collaboration Coach of the Year. These awards are given to the vendors that are most successful within the categories we evaluated:

* Community-centric collaboration solutions
* Real-time and messaging collaboration solutions
* Mobile collaboration solutions

We also evaluate the 16 selected vendors (see Exhibit 1) on IT friendliness (e.g., their ability to integrate with existing solutions); the level of service and support they provide; and, at a strategic level, their product road map, their commitment to business collaboration relative to their entire portfolio and their long-term viability.

However, the purpose of the tournament is not to predict the ultimate market champion, but to evaluate vendors on functionality and alignment with Yankee Group’s vision of the Anywhere EnterpriseTM, which essentially is a business that—technologically speaking—allows corporate users to work anywhere using any device. The goal of the Report is to help businesses make the right purchasing and licensing decisions for their collaboration infrastructure and strategy.

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