Wave is the future of the Enterprise

May 31, 2009

google_wave_logo-760260

I was just debating with a friend about the value and usefulness of Google’s Wave in the enterprise.

His argument is that Wave has 10 years of adoption curve ahead of it and would not quickly replace email or wikis for enterprise staff.

I tweeted my response:

20% of enterprise users will be using wave in the first 12 months for more than 50% of their comms (replacing email and wiki)

Edit: To be clear, my 12 month time frame begins when Wave is publicly available.

That’s a big call to make on enterprises adopting a radically new technology. Enterprises move very, very slowly. So why am I so bullish on the adoption of Google Wave in the enterprise?

Here’s why…

Email is king

Everyone uses email right? Why would people swap? Because with Wave, they don’t have to.

First, with Wave’s API there will quickly and instantly (I mean in weeks, long before public launch) be integration between Wave and Email. Wave messages and events will  be funneled to email and back again as if the two were built from the same protocol.

Second, Wave will be viral. Users will quickly realize that their email inbox is only giving them a pale imitation of the Wave collaboration experience. It will be like working with shadow puppets while your friends are over having an acid trip of light, sound, fun and productivity.

If someone had told me that they were setting out to kill/replace email, I would have laughed in their face. Now that I see the Wave product and roll out strategy – I think it might actually happen.

Enterprise IT Departments

IT departments are slow to adopt and roll out new technologies right?

People forget that enterprises are just a collection of human beings. Social beings. Like IM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Wikis and countless other applications, Wave will soak into an enterprise long before the IT department knows what the hell is going on.

The enterprise adoption curve of Wave, however, will make those other technologies look glacial. Everyone who ever picked up a Wiki, IM client, Facebook or Twitter (I think that covers 99.9% of the developed, working world) will latch onto Wave for dear life.

Everyone else will be forced to open a Wave client to find out what the hell is going on.

Too many tools

Enterprises indeed have many, many tools that already ‘own’ a large part of a given knowledge worker’s/enterprise user’s day.

None of them matter anymore. Again, with Wave’s amazing API and extensibility model, each of these apps, custom or not, will have a Wave bridge.

Official Wiki Pages, Sales Reports, Bug Tickets, New Blog Posts, Emails, Customer Records will all be available and accessibly from the Wave interface.

Who’s going to write all those bridges? Hacker employees, smart IT department engineers, new start-ups and the companies that own those other products hoping desperately to remain relevant and competitive.

Half Lives

Geocities, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter. What do these things show us? That technology adoption has a half-life. Geocities lasted as king of the heap twice as long as MySpace, MySpace twice as long as Facebook and so on. We are approaching a kind of singularity – although just like with the mathematical function, one can never achieve 0 of course.

Sure, enterprises move much more slowly, but when was the last time a really new enterprise productivity application hit the market? Do we even know what the current half-life is? My bet is that it’s pretty damn short – and Wave has the potential to be ahead of the curve.

Related link: Business Opportunities around Google Wave

10 Responses to “Wave is the future of the Enterprise”

  1. Charlie Says:

    I completely agree with you on the email aspect. As soon as I can convert my Gmail account to a Wave account I’m doing it.

  2. Hashim Warren Says:

    Interesting thought here. I think the adoption of Wave will be fueled by current social networks and if it’s good and sticky will grow lightning fast.

  3. Erik Says:

    “Everyone who ever picked up a Wiki, IM client, Facebook or Twitter (I think that covers 99.9% of the developed, working world)”

    99.9% of the developed world?? Not everywhere is Silicon Valley and not everyone has a PC on his workplace!
    I’d rather say 25% of the developed World and 0.01% of the rest.

  4. Kim Heras Says:

    Interesting, Chris.

    Questions

    1. How are you defining Enterprise?
    2. Which of the 3 Wave Ps (Product, Platform, Protocol) are you measuring?

    K

  5. Chris Saad Says:

    @Kim,

    I’m talking about the Product first, then the Platform, then the Protocol – adoption will be in that order.


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  7. Chris, I think you are wrong with the 12mth adoption and here is why. Enterprises, and I am talking big ones (1000+ emps), while they contain people they are also driven by cost.

    Let’s just look at email as 80% of enterprises are yet to really leverage wiki’s, IM, social networks etc, for an corporate IT team to dump email is a massive move. The average enterprise MS Exchange implementation is not cheap, many enterprises have been adding Sharepoint installs over the last couple of years adding to their investments. This means that they are still waiting for ROI so asking CFO to writeoff these investments for a new platform will not happen quickly.

    Now smaller organisation yes I could see them moving rapidly.

  8. Chris Saad Says:

    @Michael, my point is that like Gmail and other Google apps, the IT department and CFO will never get involved int he purchasing decision – users will just use it.


  9. Chris true but they have not replaced the traditional enterprise applications, unfortunately. The real value I see in Wave is a wholesale replacement of Exchange/Office/IM etc across the organisation with extensions such as robots adding real value.


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