I’m going to preface this post by admitting that Google usually impresses me with ease. Google Web search? Easily the best one out there. Google Street View? Amazing. Google Chrome Web browser? Just made the switch and glad that I did. So, when I received my long-awaited Google Wave invite last week, I was ecstatic, and quickly passed invites along to several friends and colleagues. I’d heard all the buzzwords. “Unified communication.” “Enterprise collaboration.” “Real-time integration.” All of this, plus Google’s well-earned reputation as a leader in Web and IT innovation? I couldn’t wait to ride the Wave!
OK, now somebody please explain this to me, because I am so unimpressed. I’ve been able to chat through Gmail through years, so how is this much different? I guess the fact that you can hold a multi-person chat is cool, as is the ability to embed videos and photos directly into the chat stream (when it works). But I don’t see anything revolutionary in here. Moreover, I find it cluttered and confusing to navigate, whereas Google is usually so intuitive. (Also, a friend and I each experienced an unwanted person from our past popping up on our contact list – come on, Google, you’re supposed to be smarter than that!)
My experience has made me question Google’s long-term strategy with regard to enterprise collaboration and Google Wave. Google likes to be the standard by which other Software as a Service applications judge themselves. More and more, Google is trying to market its services, like Gmail, to enterprise organizations. From all of the hype surrounding it, I had the impression that Google Wave would make me feel like my colleague in the Midwest is sitting at the next desk over. Alas, it hasn’t, and I can’t see Google Wave, in its present iteration anyway, taking on any kind of foothold in the enterprise.
Moreover, would enterprise audiences want so much pertinent communication taking place on a platform that they do not oversee? In a new and somewhat untested Web 2.0 environment, security and privacy issues are likely to emerge, and I would anticipate compliance headaches aplenty for CIOs who have employees communicating on this platform about work-related matters.
Despite the rocky start to our relationship, I’m trying to give Google Wave a second shot, and envision ways it could carry an enterprise forward. Have you tried using Google Wave in the workplace yet? What’s your experience been? Can you see a CIO sanctioning its use as an enterprise collaboration platform in the distributed workforce?