Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise

Matthew McKenzie, Editor in Chief / Community Leader | 5/25/2010 | 19 comments

Matthew McKenzie
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s skunk works has churned out a lot of failed experiments over the years. And a lot of people think Google Wave is one of those failures.

Don't bet on it. In fact, Wave is that rarest of IT creatures: a game-changing innovation.

Here's the storyline so far: A year ago, Google unveiled Wave -- a collaborative, real-time Internet communication platform. Wave gets big headlines, the usual suspects wax rhapsodic, and Life As We Know It promises to change forever.

Then the backlash sets in. The cynics sink their teeth into Wave and refuse to let go. We see stories declaring Wave a solution in search of a problem, and the usual suspects now proclaim that Google just doesn't grok the enterprise.

I respectfully disagree. Google "gets" the enterprise just fine, thank you very much. In fact, in this case it just might "get" the enterprise better than quite a few enterprise software vendors do.

For starters, unlike Google Apps, enterprises have the option of using Wave either inside their firewalls or as hosted, cloud-based services.

And then there's the fact that Wave is based entirely upon open APIs, open-source protocols, and Web standards. Many of those APIs make it easy to integrate data from external systems and applications. In the long run, it will be possible to integrate almost anything -- CRM, financial systems, ERP, you name it -- through the use of Wave extensions and bots.

And really, this isn't about what Wave does today. It's about what developers will be able to do with Wave tomorrow, and next month, and two years from now. By matching open APIs and protocols with widely adopted Web technologies, Google has created a platform with tremendous potential.

Should all of this strike fear into the hearts of traditional enterprise software vendors? That depends on the vendor. Some, like SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP), appear to be getting with the program.

Others, like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), may have no choice but to push back and hope for the best. The latest versions of Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, for example, are both superb products. But they're also precisely the sort of heavyweight, legacy-bound dinosaurs that should rightly view Wave as an incoming meteor.

So, how will you know who's winning this battle? That's easy: Watch the developers. If Google can persuade enough developers to adopt Wave, the long-term consequences for how enterprises communicate, collaborate, and integrate could be amazing.

In other words, this is Google's game to win or lose. And I like their chances.

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Paul Bonner   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   6/1/2010 2:15:47 PM
Re: customers are what matters, not developers
>>Is it possible for a company Google size to introduce technology JUST to scare the hell out of other companies, even if it can't figure out a business model?


Why not? Google is in the enviable position of making money off of everyone's success on the internet, so introducing a cool new web-based technology that draws folks further away from their desktop apps is a win for them no matter who perfects the killer app using that technology.
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Matthew McKenzie   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   6/1/2010 12:49:53 PM
Re: customers are what matters, not developers
Sometimes I think Google does stuff -- even big stuff -- just for the purpose of shaking things up and seeing what will happen.

Now, if you're spending millions to develop new technology, that may not be a wise move (even if you're Google). But Wave started out as a two-developer project, and while it's a bigger effort today, the investment probably isn't a rounding error on the company's balance sheet. Is it possible for a company Google size to introduce technology JUST to scare the hell out of other companies, even if it can't figure out a business model?
glassjaw   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   6/1/2010 1:25:55 AM
Re: customers are what matters, not developers
I agree.  I use Google Wave and I find its interface a bit distracting and not entirely easy to navigate, although I was really impressed with the introductory video.  I think the idea and concept are definitely great steps towards a new and amazing technology, but Wave in its current state still leaves a lot to be desired.
Paul Bonner   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/27/2010 6:03:59 PM
Re: customers are what matters, not developers
I was flat out amazed when I watched the Wave introductory video, and then amazingly unimpressed when I actually got my hands on it. The latest incarnation addresses some of the issues, but I think you're right, it's going to be a long slow cooking process before anything good comes out of the pot here.

At this point, I'm still certain that this is important technology, but if I had to bet on it, I'd bet against Wave being the incarnation of the technology that actually makes anybody any money. Wave is like an API or toolkit for this new kind of application, but I suspect the winning implementations will deliver much smaller, less capable, more targeted subsets of its capabilities, for the same reason that blogs supplanted individual web sites (and Facebook supplanted blogs, and Twitter supplanted Facebook).


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Fredric Paul   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/27/2010 2:34:53 PM
Re: The Enterprise should've got Google Wave first
@ Matthew McKenzie

Fair enough. Just because you aren't using Google Wave doesn't mean it has no value.

But I haven't seen many reports of anyone using it, much less in ways that really matter to enterprise IT.
Matthew McKenzie   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/27/2010 2:10:00 PM
Re: The Enterprise should've got Google Wave first
Absolutely nothing. And if that's your criteria for measuring relevance, I have some news for you: It's a pretty damned short list.
Fredric Paul   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/27/2010 12:53:33 PM
Re: The Enterprise should've got Google Wave first
@Matthew McKenzie

I'd be more impressed if you -- or anyone -- could show me folks who are actually using Google Wave to change a game, if you know what I mean.

Potential only gets you so far.

So here's a question, what are YOU using Wave to do?
Matthew McKenzie   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/27/2010 10:51:30 AM
Re: The Enterprise should've got Google Wave first
We shall see, although it will take time to know for sure. But I don't think I'm out to lunch on this, and I'm pretty comfortable with that position given some of the other folks who are paying close attention to Wave and who see it as a game-changing technology.
Fredric Paul   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/26/2010 10:04:06 PM
Re: The Enterprise should've got Google Wave first
Matt, you know I think the world of your insights, but you couldn't be more wrong on this one.

I got Google Wave early on, and frankly, I don't get Wave. I spent a fair amount of time checking it out -- it took a fair amount of time to get a sense of what it was all about -- and while it could have some interesting potential, I didn't see any immediate use. 

I do a lot of remote collaboration -- with you, Matt, for instance -- but I can't imagine what I would use Wave for. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as Lotus Notes, another collaboration product that had plenty of potential but ended up used as nothing more than an astonishingly bad email client in way too many enterprises. Trouble was, and is, that these things just take way too much work in return for the benefits they provide.

A bunch of open APIs may make it extensible, but they don't make it useful. Until and unless someone shows me something -- anything -- useful you can do with Wave, count me as one of the unbelievers.

Hasn't happened yet, which is why my Google Wave account has sat untouched for months. Just like many, many others, I'll wager. And do we miss it? 

Oh, and don't even get me started on Buzz. Apart from the disastrous errors on introduction, why do I need to keep up on yet another social network -- don't Facebook and Linked In suck up enough time already? Is there something Buzz does that I need to do that the existing competitors with millions of users don't do? If so, I missed it...

thingsithinkithink   Google Wave 'Gets' the Enterprise   5/26/2010 3:12:40 PM
Great posting.  I think that although the google wave app may be considered a failure, I actually use it and think it could pay dividends to an enterprise if used correctly.
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