We tend to use word “collaboration” very often in Product Lifecycle Management and related fields. Collaborative Design, Collaboration Product Data Management, Collaborative… I want to discuss how I see the world of collaboration can probably change in the future. The following four trends are my take on what will happen in the area of collaboration.
1. Infrastructure maturing. This is obvious and not. In my view, the biggest collaborative infrastructure move for the last few years was introducing of “Unified Collaboration”. However, I think, this trend will continue and Cisco, Microsoft and others will provide more and more infrastructure solutions for the market.
2. Device-less. Collaboration will need to lose religious connection to the specific device. Growing cloud computing and improvements in the multiple device will disconnect collaboration from the “collaborative device”. We will collaborate using mobile phone, PDA, Tablet, via Internet, on multiple devices in your office.
3. Going beyond applications. The context will become The King Of Collaboration. However, you need to have rich set of information in your hands in order to set up context for collaboration. Such set of information in PLM can come only from multiple applications – requirements, analyzes, design, manufacturing planning, etc. Collaborative tools will need to go beyond a specific application to be really useful in the future.
4. Collaboration – not social. I think the name for “social” inside of organization is “collaboration”. It will take some time to understand it, but this is really true. In place of social networks, friends, connections, etc. will come organizational structures and collaborative work. However, lots of social nets practices will be adopted for new collaborative organizations.
5. Growth in enterprise search. I think, enterprise search will need to learn from success of web search. Today is still not happening. However, as much as organizations produce more and more data, search will become an important function. Today search is the commodity and very primitive in organization and new collaborative application will have to change it.
Now, how it related to Google Wave? The Alpha preview of Google Wave was announced last year on I/O conference and got a lot of visibility, discussions and speculation. It was the fist time, after introducing of Google Mail, people have tried to get Google Wave invitation even for money. Few month later after initial I/O demo, Google released about 100’000+ invitation and, in my view, satisfied the need of researching communities. Now, the ugly truth is that despite huge expectations related to how Google Wave can improve and change people collaboration, for the moment, it doesn’t happen.
What are top failures of Google Wave, for the moment?
1. Isolation. Google Wave is terrible connected to the outside world. The technological promise is in place, but practically it still not happened in beta/alpha versions. It will take time to develop all connections that allow GW to become part of your day-to-day work.
2. Another application to run. This is related to previous point. But, today, you need to run it, follow this application, etc. This is like another mail. Somewhat you need to spend more time to work on…
3. Documents and other Google App integration. This is a place where Google needs to learn from Microsoft, in my view. Microsoft’s folks did a great job integrating SharePoint and Office Apps. Google Wave need to do the same with Google Apps. This will be part of their mutual success.
4. Inbox management. This is similar to mail inbox. And need to be improved. I still don’t know how, but feels like we cannot drag old email inbox problems into new collaborative world .. This is a place to innovate.
So, what is my conclusion today? I think we will see growing interest in collaborative platforms and application in coming couple of years. However, organization will hardly accept “yet another application to collaborate”. The platform trend will be very strong and will require certain integration and “collaboration” inside of organization. The ideas of social networks, enterprise 2.0 will be proliferating in the organization and mature in the way of open collaborative platforms.
Just my thoughts.