I've submitted a request for a Google Wave invite but haven't yet received one. (I'd beg, but I think Google might find that undignified. If not, then pleeeeaaase send me an invite.) Based on the demo, however,Google Wave strikes me as being like IM on steroids. Even as I wrote it last week, I expected folks to take me to task for an overly simplistic analysis.
While no one has (at least not yet), it certainly seems more simplistic now that I've read Evolved Technologist CTO Dan Woods' thoughts in his JargonSpy column in Forbes. Woods believes Google Wave's flexibility could threaten traditional software as we know it. He writes:
The threat to enterprise software is that almost everything that enterprise software can do with a central server and a rigid database could be done using Google Wave. But the flexible collaboration of Google Wave is out of reach for the current generation of enterprise software. In addition, the flexibility and configuration of the data structures offered by Google Wave would make modern SaaS software seem restrictive.
Whereas software-as-a-service trumps traditional enterprise software by allowing "regular" users to add fields in many SaaS applications, Wave further extends this kind of flexibility. Information from enterprise systems can be transferred into Wave, where users can add fields all they want, sharing with others as they see fit. The resulting information can then be transferred back into operational systems.
Further, Google Wave uses "plumbing that helps balance computing that is best performed on the client with computing that is best performed on servers." Depending on the application, computing can occur either on central servers or on distributed servers running on clients, facilitating what Woods calls an "elegant distribution of data and programming."
Woods discusses the Gravity application created by SAP, which I mentioned in my earlier posts on Wave and which allows people to collaborate on creating and modeling business processes. Says Harald Nehring, senior director, BPM Solution Marketing at SAP:
With the Gravity project, we are trying to see how far we can push the limits of true collaborative process design that ultimately links back into operational systems. Design collaboration on a platform like Google Wave, combined with a community as experienced as SAP's business process experts, can help dramatically speed up business process innovation going forward.
SAP wasn't able to provide the kind of collaboration facilitated by Wave using only its own technology, notes Woods. Yet Gravity demonstrates what software vendors should provide for their customers: a solid core of functionality that can be extended as needed by integrating other functions.
Another interesting example of an enterprise application utilizing Google Wave is one created by Salesforce.com. Screen shots of the app on silicon.com show how a customer inquiry moves from self-service mode to a chat robot to a human being, who can unobtrusively seek assistance from other humans if necessary. The collaboration facilitated by Wave is supposed to make the whole process seamless to the customer. If the issue isn't resolved, the customer and agent can communicate later via the same Wave. All of the information from the conversation is transferred back into the Salesforce.com system, where it can be used for analysis.