Sunday, July 19, 2009

Business Colloaboration Opportunities around Google Wave

Business collaboration is where people assist and co-operate with colleagues and other contacts to further a particular aspect of the business that they share.

What if you could keep track of all the changes to a document (any kind of document, not just word processor files), without mandating that everyone use the same package (especially important if you collaborate with other businesses or even just people out side your business).

You would be able collaborate with anyone, at anytime with all changes and versions kept up to date automatically. Furthermore, all changes could be traced back to whom made them and when. All old versions of documents would be available for you to check information.

With the global economy tightening as never before, collaboration between businesses is absolutely vital to business growth as well as profitability.

Brought ever closer by technological breakthroughs and increased communications around the globe, today’s world is smaller than ever. The need to constantly grow, change and innovate in today’s business landscape requires a new approach to connect, communicate and collaborate, inside and outside the enterprise, to accelerate revenues and reduce costs.

Companies everywhere rely on positive and consistent interactions with customers, partners and suppliers.

Collaboration has been described as the next phase of the Internet, and a $34 billion market opportunity.

Collaboration Is a Key Driver of Business Performance

Collaboration is a key driver of overall performance of companies around the world. Its impact is twice as significant as a company’s aggressiveness in pursuing new market opportunities (strategic orientation) and five times as significant as the external market environment (market turbulence).

A global culture of collaboration exists, but that there are regional differences in how people in various countries prefer to communicate with one another.

American professionals were more likely to enjoy working alone, and prefer to send e-mail rather than calling a person or leaving a voice mail message. They are also more comfortable with audio, video and Web conferencing technologies than people of other regions and tend to multitask the most when on conference calls.

Europeans thrive on teamwork more than their counterparts elsewhere and prefer to interact in real time with other people. They are more likely to feel it is irresponsible not to answer the phone and want people to call them back rather than leave a voice mail message.

Professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, more so than anywhere else, want to be in touch constantly during the workday. As a result, they find the phone to be an indispensable tool and prefer instant messaging to e-mail.

These differences highlight an opportunity for greater cultural understanding to improve collaborative efforts around the world.

Collaboration can positively impact each of the gold standards of performance — profitability, profit growth and sales growth — to determine a company’s overall performance in the marketplace. “As a general rule, global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.” said Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D., best-selling author and expert on high-performance virtual collaboration.

Measuring the quality and capability of collaboration in a given organization presents an opportunity for management to prioritize technology investments, encourage adoption of new tools and open up communications lines for improved collaboration.

Google Wave is an incredibly smart tool that can turn any Web browser (even a mobile one) into an über-communication hub, essentially rolling e-mail, IM, social media and document sharing into one easy-to-navigate platform, er “wave,” that can be shared among different users on a single hosted server.

In Google’s own words, a wave is equal parts conversation and document, where users can almost instantly communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. Unlike e-mail, waves start out as a conversation with a set of users picked to participate in the dialogue.

Waves can have many uses in a business setting. For one, they’re highly collaborative. Wave participants can share and edit documents at the same time and use waves to track and complete projects without ever having to set foot in the same office. And since waves are live transmissions, employees can have faster conversations than they can by waiting for e-mailed replies. Waves also make managing multiple media easier. Within a single wave you can manage your Twitter and Facebook accounts, e-mail alerts, and more. As long as a gadget is open source, it can sit within a wave. Waves even come with a handy robot called Rosy, which can translate your typing as you type it into 40 different languages, allowing you to communicate with customers in real time around the world.

Collaboration Opportunities around Google Wave

What business opportunities exist around Google Wave? What can startups, software vendors, and consulting companies offer that could be profitable? Here are a couple of ideas...

  1. Migration Tools and Services
    Companies today use Outlook and Exchange. If Wave is good enough, some of today's users of Outlook, Exchange, Notes, or even SharePoint could be convinced to switch, either in whole or just for a part of their workflow. Third parties could offer migration tools and services that allow companies to get started and port their existing data - Terabytes of emails and documents - into Google Wave.

  2. Enterprise Wave
    The key to making organizations switch to Google Wave is to make it sufficiently full featured for enterprise use. In particular, it's hard to see anyone switching from Outlook without tightly integrated group calendaring, task lists, and mobile sync. Since Wave is open source, you could add those in and sell an "enterprise version" of Wave under your own brand.

  3. Extensions
    There is no shortage of plugins, extensions, and add-ins to Microsoft Outlook: Think Xobni, Gwabbit, ClearContext, and many little helpers that can you extract attachments, schedule emails, or remove duplicate contacts. Some of these tools are highly profitable paid extensions, and it's conceivable that you could build and charge for extensions that add useful features to Google Wave.

  4. Hosting
    Since Google Wave is open source, you can host the server on your own hardware. There's no shortage of hosted Exchange providers - a quick search will give you many offerings that will give you an exchange account for $9.95 a month. Similarly, you could host Google Wave accounts for a fee.

  5. Wave as a Feature
    I imagine that this will be the most common type of use for Google Wave. Once it's released, websites will replace systems for commenting and user-generated content with Google Wave.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]