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Is Google Wave the Future of Software?

A New Wave of Enterprise Software?

I didn’t “get” Google Wave when I first tried it.  It wasn’t like any other forum, wiki, or project management software I’ve used before.  (And believe me, I’ve used a lot of them.)  What’s so great about it?

Now I get it.  Google Wave is easier and more communicative than any other collaboration tool I’ve used before.  That’s what makes it better.  I’m not going to teach you how to use Google Wave here — if you haven’t used it, watch the Google Wave. Instead, let me summarize why I think Google Wave might be the future of software:

  • It runs “in the cloud.” Obviously, since it’s from Google, it runs in the cloud, so there’s nothing for you to download or install.  It’s ready when you are.
  • It reuses your existing identity. Even better, you don’t have to go somewhere, enter all your information, choose a username and password, and have to remember another account.  It uses your existing digital identity, a Google account.  This is better for everybody: you can be up and running faster; they don’t have to write and maintain user management screens; you don’t have to update your password on another website; they’ll always have up-to-date information about their users.
  • Real time dialog.  Unlike other collaboration tools, Google Wave is real time.  If you and I were on the same “wave,” I can watch your comments as you type them into that wave.  This is incredibly addictive.
  • Unstructured data with search.  Most project management tools have fields to store all sorts of data, like ticket ID, subject, description, client, status, and person it’s assigned to.  Google Wave is just text, like twitter.  It’s less structured but much more flexible.  Just like on twitter, you can add structure to your waves with “magic text.”  For example, “#100 @clienta [special project] %sichen {Done}” could mean that “ticket 100 for clienta entitled ’special project’ assigned to sichen which is now done.”  If you need to find a ticket, just search for the magic text, like “@clienta”, “%sichen”, “{Done}”.  This makes it trivial to customize Google wave — there are no tables to modify, no fields to add, no queries to change.
  • Fluid boundaries.  This is the most amazing thing.  Each collaborative discussion can be started by choosing whomever you’d like to include.  The boundary between “us” and “them” or “insider” versus “outsider”, always so crisply defined in traditional enterprises (and enterprise software), becomes fluid.  Just like in real life.

A New Wave of Enterprise Software?

What if we could use Google Wave with pre-set templates? For example, what if we could have pre-set groups of collaborators or pre-set tags entered into Wave?  And then we can save standard queries based on those tags?

Is that the future of (enterprise) software?

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More Stories By Si Chen

Si Chen is the founder of Open Source Strategies, Inc. and Project Manager for opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM (