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3/16/2006
11:22 AM
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The Elephant in the Board Room

Time was when the elephant was in the living room. Then, it represented any number of things that a family member didn’t want to face. Now, that it’s moved into the board rooms of collaboration environment purveyors, the elephant has become a woolly mammoth with enormous tusks.If you read Melanie Turek’s blog, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this situation reminds me of “Waiting for Godot.” First, I’m naming the woolly mammoth – it’s Microsoft. There is a palpable weight to the air when discussing the possibilities of Microsoft’s collaboration environment offerings to come.

In the backs of everyone’s minds at collaboration tool vendors around the world is a handful of sizeable questions: “What will the Microsoft solution be? Will it be a lightweight, completely integrated Groove-like solution? When does it hit the market? How do we differentiate ourselves before this happens? How can we preserve our niche?”

What makes your solution special now may not be special whenever Microsoft unleashes the mammoth. Furthermore, if your solution does not integrate seamlessly with what basically most of the free world uses to do their work, you may find yourself looking for work in another field. The integration piece is what will give Microsoft the green light from IT directors and other decision makers. It’s a huge time saver.

On the other side of the coin, the big question in the back of my mind is how secure will the Microsoft solution be? Although they are relatively quick to respond to security threats, Microsoft tools are such easy targets for hackers.

Another, slightly smaller, question that pops up in my consciousness now and then is what happens when Google does what it continues to do best – surprise us with interesting, new, mostly free ways to do things? What happens if Google makes a concerted effort and throws its hat into the ring for collaboration environments? Google is already making leaps and bounds with Gmail and Google Talk. Who’s to say that Google won’t beat Microsoft to the punch?

It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

Time will tell, but it seems that the longer we all wait, the more questions arise in my mind. In the meantime, I’ll do a Google search for Mammoth Chow. The thing in the board room is getting hungry.

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