Back on June 3, I protested the fact that so many bloggers were putting Google Wave on some pedestal of previously unheard-of innovation unlike that provided in enterprise software (see Is an Enterprise Software Wave about to Wash Over You? ). Of course, Wave is enterprise software. If Wave ever even matures into a product-and some people who have looked at it closely (I haven't) question that-it is simply a totally predictable evolutionary step preceded by inter-process communications messages within operating systems, IBM PROFS, DEC All-in-One, WangOffice, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, Groove and a hundred other similar collaboration enterprise-software products that preceded it, including Google's own primitive personal-productivity application lineup.
When I put up that post, I made a note to circle around in a few months and check the status. A group at ZDNet has gone me one better and checked out the Wave product beta version. Christopher Dawson summed up the issue in a way similar to my litany of collaboration software history above. He said:
"If you grew up when Eudora seemed like a really cool way to access your email, the learning curve might be steep. If you communicate almost exclusively via social media tools and rarely access email, then the idea of a Wave is going to seem fairly natural."
So because the guys at ZDNet having taken my next step for me, let me forge even further ahead. Based on IT market history, any of the earlier generation products listed above that are still actively developed and marketed (e.g., Notes, Outlook) are as likely as not to offer Wave-promised features before Wave does. Given their Eudora-era go-to-market methodologies, IBM and Microsoft will do it in a formal productized sense (as opposed to a demo at a trade show). I haven't used Notes in a few years but I think it is probably already close to what Wave reviewers say is coming, given where Notes was when I last used it.
Reaching this conclusion, I had to ask myself whether I am just getting resistant to change in my dotage. I think not. In addition to the praise I heaped on Google from a marketing perspective in the earlier blog post, on a personal level, I am a big Google fan. I have been using its search engine since IDC search-guru Sue Feldman told me to stop using AltaVista and get into the 21st century (lest you want to diss me, she said this at the end of the last century, not last week).
I used the Google mail and other personal productivity tools for a while because a client requested it but I found them cumbersome (not to mention the occasional out of service problem). But that's pretty much a personal preference thing. I actually don't find a big difference among all the many personal productivity and collaboration software I've used over the last 30 years. I currently primarily use the Office suite but I liked Notes/Domino, Office on Mac, WordPerfect, 1-2-3, Harvard Graphics, etc. equally well. I not only go back to Eudora but to Selectric typewriters (jumbo ball or regular?), so all of this stuff is great from my perspective.
I can't compare them from a return on investment (ROI) point of view (nothing compares with the $1 a month I currently pay for Office 2003), but you need to. Think through the ROI for any collaboration software changes when you're ready to think of next-generation collaboration software from any of the above suppliers. For a template on how to do that, I suggest you look at Roger Sessions' methodology for avoiding IT project failure (see Update: You're Not Wasting $6 Trillion a Year on IT, Just $500 Billion).