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Has Google Wave impressed you as an enterprise collaboration tool?

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?

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Can not agree more!! Google Wave feature does not bring much value, and it's not intuitive to use.
I have to say that not having heard anything about Wave before I got my invite, I was fairly impressed by it. I even took the time to watch the extremely long video from their launch conference. Personally, I find that the more tools that we add as part of "standard ways of communicating" the more obnoxious the management is for the end user. I think that while Wave is not perfect, it is a pretty good attempt at bringing the best parts of each tool together. I am a CIO for our organization and we will be installing our own Wave server and testing it out with IT as a communication platform. (Note: we do not currently even have a corporate IM solution). I am optimistic about the results. -=Todd
Todd -- I would love to hear more about your experience in installing a Wave server! Could you e-mail me your contact information so I can check in with you down the road? I can be reached at
I really never thought of creating an account to comment on commentary like this until now.... Rachel, there are a few things to keep in mind here: 1) The Wave is still in beta. When using beta software, it's just expected that some features won't be available until Dev/QA can get around to fixing bugz. 2) A little knowledge is sometime more destructive that none at all. With a little training someone can attack a project with weighty expectations. With no training at all, well...I've seen some hit a project with child-like awe; everything is just new and cool. Of course, being fully trained is the best, but yes...who has that kind of time? The Google Wave is important for a lot of reasons. First though, you have to look a few years into the future to see it. Let's take a formalized development cycle for example. There is a great deal of documentation generated for for Dev/QA/PM/UAT. The resultant documentation are business rules, functional/performance requirements, use cases, and statements of work, and non-stop emails from kick-off to sign-off. There are fantastic statements of fact emailed from developer to requirements analyst, then answered in a reply back to the team. Still more questions are generated again. And again, the email trail becomes longer. Of course these new findings should be included into the official body of info for the entire team. If business push-back is introduced while trying to include these new items, they will surely die in the inbox. When those folks (contractors) leave, well, these bits are just gone. I think we can all look back to any project that we've all been a part of recently. These files are many and scattered, all in disparate forms: .pdfs, .docs, enterprise apps (like iRise, QualityCenter) costom apps, and email files. This is project cancer. What The Google Wave attempts to do is allow all form of communication to find an ultimate home somewhere in your enterprise; wherever you designate, in a project blog or wherever. We'll run with the blog example for now. Every time you have an entry in the Wave for "Project X" it's committed to a web resource (blog) that all team members can access. Attachments can be uploaded, et al. The blog then becomes the source of all truths about the project. Your blog is editable, and of course, everything is time/date stamped and then becomes a project history. With a proper/full history, you can then dredge project metrics. This body of knowledge can then be boiled down to further refine requirements. And, if anyone wants to know HOW a requirement 'came to be' they won't even have to ask the question, the answer will simply be to check the Wave for "Project X". With Web 2.0 specifications ([A href=""]html5[/A]) this is not only possible but it becomes silly if not done. So, it may not work now but, with some time, Google has shown us over and over that they are only interested in Quality products. Yes, they sometimes come with a minor/major paradigm shift, but in the end it's usually worth the wait and the hope. Have faith, do the homework, and you too shall succeed with The Wave. After all, they will probably end up just giving it away free. And what more can you ask of a large profit-hungry corporation? T