CHANGE! - InformationWeek
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1/8/2008
12:00 AM
Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar
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CHANGE!

Watching the political discussions these days it seems that everyone is fighting to be the “agent of change”, but in the collaboration world is “change” always good?  Or should we perhaps consider that some folks just don’t want to change?

Yeah, it’s probably a pretty poor analogy to tie the political landscape into collaboration, but one of the key issues that collaboration managers continually face is an “unwillingness” to change, perhaps the exact opposite of what we’re seeing as the driving issue in politics right now.  Many collaboration (and arguably many other application) efforts have failed because they required too much change on the part of users.  Let’s face it, when it comes to how people communicate and collaborate, change is often disruptive, leading to frustration from increased communication complexity and lost productivity.

Let’s look at e-mail for example.  For year’s we’ve heard of the evils of e-mail as a collaboration medium.  But year after year we continually find that e-mail remains the main collaboration tool for most workers?  Why?  Familiarity perhaps?  Ease of use?  A resistance to change?  I still think that one can argue that e-mail is still the easiest way to exchange ideas, information, files, and notes.

This continued reliance on e-mail is a reason that a new start-up called Kryptiva caught my eye.  Rather than attempt to replace e-mail as a collaboration tool, Kryptiva embraces it.  Kryptiva works by installing links to collaboration applications such as file sharing, instant messaging, and web conferencing directly in your e-mail system.  Want to collaborate on a file?  Simply e-mail it to your colleagues and mark it as a shared file.  Any changes that one makes to the file are propagated to the in-boxes of other recipients.  Want to set up a web conference? Simply e-mail other participants and use Kryptiva to set up an invite.  Want to chat?  Simply e-mail those who you wish to chat with and invite them to join a chat session.

Kryptiva is still pretty raw, it only supports Outlook 2003 at the moment (though other system support is planned), and there’s no way yet to pre-schedule meetings.  Still, it’s a novel idea to see someone actually try to embrace and extend e-mail rather than replace it.

Whether or not this approach wins votes in the early primary states remains to be seen.

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