I've got a fairly large wardrobe, yet I wear the same things over and over. It's not because I'm that crazy about my black sweaters or even that they go with everything. No, it's just they are usually hanging where I can see them, unlike a lot of my other stuff. When I force myself to clean out my overstuffed closet, it's like getting a new wardrobe. I find stuff I forgot I had, some of which is still in style. What I really need is a good closet organizer -- or three more closets.
Which brings me, oddly enough, to Google Wave. Lots of folks seem excited by Google Wave's potential to radically alter collaboration. And maybe it will, but I don't think it will do so by offering some heretofore unimagined collaboration capabilities. Instead, like Google's hugely successful search engine (or a closet organizer), it'll change our lives simply by helping us find what we need.
The truth is, there are already lots of great collaboration tools out there. David Strom lists a half-dozen collaboration tools, ranging from meeting organizer Setmeeting.com to spreadsheet-sharing service SmartSheet, on IT Business Edge's sister site, CTOEdge. A similar list of collaboration options, including well-known ones like Zoho's productivity suite and lesser-known ones like e-mail organizing service Cc: Betty, recently appeared on Lifehacker.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a place for all this stuff where I could "shop" for the apps best suited to my collaboration needs, try them out and purchase some of them? That could be Google Wave, based on this BusinessWeek story that notes Google will likely let developers market their apps in an online marketplace similar to Apple's App Store. Said Lars Rasmussen, the Google software engineering manager who directs the 60-person team that created Wave:
We'll almost certainly build a store. So many developers have asked us to build a marketplace -- and we might do a revenue-sharing arrangement.
Developers already seem to love Wave. Hundreds of applications have been created, according to BusinessWeek, including enterprise-appropriate ones by companies like SAP and Salesforce.com. Unlike Apple's store, which sells apps only for the iPhone and the iPod, a Wave store will likely encompass multiple devices.
This all hinges on Wave luring users with its initial capabilities, which some observers see as a pretty big "if." Many folks, including Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay, expect competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo to introduce their own Wave-like products. Not a problem, said Google's Rasmussen, who seems excited about the possibility of interoperable Waves from a variety of vendors, not just Google.
In addition to using Wave for their internal collaboration needs, companies will need to start thinking about Wave as a marketing vehicle to reach consumers using it. It could become a part of their social-media marketing mix, along with channels like Twitter and Facebook. Wave "is something everyone's got on their radar," said Dan Shust, director of emerging media at agency Resource Interactive, which helps companies as Victoria's Secret, HP and Procter & Gamble with their social-media campaigns.