By Raul Castanon
In a blog post to the Google Community last week, Urs Hölzle, Senior VP of Operations, communicated the company's decision to kill Wave (see Official Google Blog): "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects."
This announcement left some wondering about the future of Enterprise Collaboration, but market expectations for these applications have never been better. IDC expects that spending on Social Platforms will grow by 35.5% through 2014, making it the fastest growing functional market in Collaborative Applications (1). At this year's Enterprise 2.0 Conference held in Boston (see Enterprise 2.0 – Big Challenges and Exciting Possibilities for Collaboration Software), a number of success stories presented seem to confirm IDC's expectations:
- The number and size of organizations working with Collaborative Applications is growing significantly. Case studies presented included medium size and large companies, in different industries including Education, Consumer Goods and Services.
- Organizations are focusing strongly on metrics to evaluate their impact that these tools have. This indicates that the market is maturing and moving beyond the hype to actually addressing how to use these tools effectively for solving business problems.
Looking at the number of vendors in the expo floor, it is evident that this is already a crowded market with very similar solutions. However, you also get the impression that Collaboration tools have the potential to become a standard business tool for the enterprise and it is difficult not to be enthusiastic about their potential.
The message for the channel in this story is that Collaboration Applications have a huge potential but gaining traction in the market will require working closely with customers and developing best practices for user adoption and solving business problems. This was one of the main problems that Google Wave faced which in addition to security concerns, might explain the low rates in user adoption.
From the case studies we saw at Enterprise 2.0 we learned that the companies that have successfully deployed Collaboration solutions have one element in common, which is an internal or external specialist or team that help identify specific business issues and coaches the organization in the best way to integrate technology to address their business problems. In addition to owning and managing the relationship with the Enterprise, this is a role that the channel can fill for Collaboration Solutions, expanding their practice into adding value to the business solution that technology provides.
(1) Worldwide Collaborative Applications 2010-2014 Forecast, April 2010, IDC #222713