Now that Google Wave is a real service, IT organizations are going to need to take a step back to review their collaboration strategies.
The issue that many IT organizations will face is similar to what they are experiencing with services such as Google Docs. End users will take it upon themselves to use Google Wave to share documents and information outside of any general IT supervision. That approach essentially end runs any and all compliance requirements as the data being shared on Google Wave is beyond any governance or security policies put in place by the IT department.
There's no doubt that end users will find Google Wave to be enticing. After all, right now for the IT department to deploy something similar it requires a major investment of time and money. As both time and money are in short supply, IT organizations should not be shocked to discover a marked increase in the usage of Google Wave and other Google applications in the coming months.
When it comes to personal productivity applications, Google's services represent a new paradigm that IT organizations are going to have to find a way to come to terms with. The good news is that while Google Wave will put more focus on the collaboration needs of end users, the service itself is still in its infancy. For example, Google Wave is not tightly coupled to Gmail and end users are going to quickly discover that the real-time capabilities of Google Wave don't practically scale beyond a handful of active users.
In fact, when it comes to collaboration on an enterprise scale, companies such as IBM and ActionBase have been pretty much leading the way. IBM has significantly extended the collaboration capabilities of Lotus Notes, while ActionBase created a collaboration platform that extends the Microsoft Outlook and Exchange platform. Cisco is also expected to jump into this space shortly, while Microsoft has been conspicuously absent in terms of any offering specifically dedicated to collaboration.
The real issue long term is that collaboration tools for the enterprise need to be integrated within the context of an actual workflow or business process. So while tools such as Google Wave represent an interesting technological development, the real challenge is far from solved.