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Google Missing Enterprise 2.0 Future By Killing Wave
You can't be a serious player in the upcoming Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 world if you don't have a communications and collaboration platform. That's why it's alarming that Google is <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/open_source/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=226600016">pulling the plug</a> on further development of Wave, even though they're saying the technology will appear in other products. This is where one sees the failure of their model of throwing betas against the wall to see
August 5, 2010
3 Min Read
You can't be a serious player in the upcoming Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 world if you don't have a communications and collaboration platform. That's why it's alarming that Google is pulling the plug on further development of Wave, even though they're saying the technology will appear in other products. This is where one sees the failure of their model of throwing betas against the wall to see what sticks. They should've toughed this one out, not waved a white flag of E2.0 surrender.Google's move can only be good news for Cisco, IBM, and SAP, to name just a few of the vendors fielding enterprise collaboration products. True, Wave was perhaps more of a consumer play than an offering pitched at the workplace. But Google's cool quotient made it the elephant in the room, at least as far as customers sitting there wondering which Web/E2.0 product they should throw their lot in with.
That's not an effect to be minimized. Remember that most users have only recently begun to dip their workplace wicks into wikis. Thus they're not yet fully acclimated to the ways of online collaboration. In terms of figuring out where this will all lead, they best analogy I can come up with is, they're caught between a bunch of newbies and a hard place. The newbies being the cubicle dwellers who have to be convinced (or forced) into online collab mode, and the hard place being upper managers who are generating pressure to start using this stuff.
So what if Google had a problem with Wave in that it wasn't fully baked as far as the user experience was concerned? (Skeptics might wonder why that's a problem for a collaboration platform in this early stage of the game.) That's what a "beta" process is for.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that Web/Enterprise 2.0 is very fluid landscape right now, and Google is insane to pull the plug on something just because adoption isn't as rapid as it would like. Even if you stipulate that Wave isn't an enterprise offering, Google is giving up a huge opportunity to get 'em while they're young. (Young users favoring Wave could one day force it up the enterprise chain, iPhone-like.)
What, does Google have some kind of case of corporate attention-deficit disorder, where they turn to the next shiny thing anytime a Segway rolls down the hallway? Hey, you gotta give Microsoft comparative credit here, in terms of typically not throwing in the towel on stuff until they're a lot further down the road.
Now that I think about it, the comparison with Microsoft is apt. The folks in Redmond are expending a lot of effort to elevate the functionality in Sharepoint, and convince enterprise customers that it's nicely expandable and adaptable platform to use as your company's Enterprise 2.0 foundation.
Google should have taken a page from Microsoft's book here, because this is a case where Microsoft's incremental development model shines. Don't expect that getting collaboration right will be easy, either on the user or developer end.
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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.
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