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What Google Wave means for IT: Collaboration in IT management tools

The rush for Google Wave has begun. The much-anticipated release of Google’s collaboration tool has generated media hype, exclusive invites to try the beta and even eBay bidding wars for the opportunity to try it first. And this step in collaboration technology is a big one, as it works to combine email, wikis, blogs, instant messaging and social networking capabilities to allow integrated communication in real time. The use cases for the Wave technology could be endless as developers work on extensions to further enhance it.

For IT, I have to wonder how Google Wave will also change the face of project management, business process management and IT service management. Why? Most of the major concerns I hear regarding these types of tools are their lack of functional, easy-to-use, real-time collaboration and monitoring features.

And for business process automation, which we’ve heard is becoming increasingly relevant as a budget saver, Google Wave could act as the interface tying multiple data streams together. For the midmarket, Google Wave has the potential to be an inexpensive way to get first-rate features — enabling new technologies — without a large infrastructure investment.

Here are some of the Google Wave features and add-ons that could drive real benefits for organizations:

Ribbit (currently in beta) brings in audio with its conference call gadget and message gadget, incorporating real-time audio streaming and recorded messages (including a transcript) in the associated wave. No means of communication left behind! is working on a prototype extension to Google Wave that could help its customers provide customized, documented support in their own businesses — leveraging the cloud-based platforms and interactive capabilities. Support cases are maintained and updated, from initial point of contact to resolution within the wave. Google Wave, with the ability to interact with other cloud platforms, could change the way customer support is handled.

SAP is working on a prototype for business process modeling called Gravity. Using the communication integration capabilities of Wave, users collaborate on business process modeling activities in near real time — working together to approve models, find windows of opportunity for business process automation and help build a strategy for execution and refinement of the processes.

It’s still early days for the Wave technology (some bugs and kinks need to be worked out) but it all looks promising and a tool for CIOs to embrace, not shy away from.

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