By now you will have come across the hype curve. The idea that reality is never as good as the dream is true for many things (if not almost all). But how often do you get it big time from a giant company? take for example this years hypemaster Google Inc. and their assault on SMTP / email. There is top notch hype at its best. But does it hold when you apply the hype tests?
Google Wave is basically a completely new take on people to people document exchange. For one it is set up as cloud computing, for another it freely changes state between chat, collaborative authoring, work flow, chat and webex style meetings. If you have a spare hour and a bucket (in case you feel nausea from all the American Ra!Ra!) then take in the launch cast from youtube here.
To understand the hype a bit better you will be amazed to learn that pre-launch Process Expert company SAP has already published its example take on wave showing of collaborative business process design between business users and how it gets integrated into the service oriented world on the Software Developer Network. You can view it here: Gravity – Collaborative Business Process Modelling within Google Wave (Low Resolution)
I have to admit that I am quite smitten with the idea of a collaborative environment that blogs, plays games, collaborates and most importantly does away with the e-mail nonsense that we are currently fighting against. SO if everything is wonderful why go on about hype cycles as coined by Gartner?
HypeCycle - (originally posted here: http://www.gartner.com/pages/story.php.id.8795.s.8.jsp)
Lets start from a business point of view. A number of questions are asked of every technology that comes along:
- Is it safe – Google wave will operate in the cloud, which means that as a business I might (potentially wrongly) perceive to not have control over the documents in question at all times. It might also not be seen as secure since the APIs involved are open.
- Do I trust the supplier? Google has a poor record on keeping privacy private. Google stores records on every IP and every aspect of consumer behaviour for research purposes. All good states Google, since it will help in making better tools, wave being one of them. But what happens if someone buys Google, how secure and reliable is my business information in Google’s hands when it comes to business processes, investment plans, finance transactions or the latest innovation in my products?
- What is my return on my investment? This is most likely great technology – so what? most organisations still don’t allow for basic chat on the desk-top, even enlightened companies with full web-access at the user level have productivity issues due to mail. Will Google Wave change this, or make it worse?
- Will it change my business model? Will my partners become my competitors, and so on? Businesses worry about revenue streams and it looks like this is not effected unless business process providers like SAP bring content and processes into this environment, not just the technical integration that is demonstrated in Gravity.
On the other hand we should be thankful that someone is taking on the mess that is e-mail. If you are a process centric business (think procure to pay, design to build, sell to service or any other end to end process) and you realise quickly that e-mail is a key inhibitor to speedy business. Too many people work on the “I mailed it, so I did it” principle and anything that can help tackle that sort of inhibitor must be consider a contender for the “best business application” prize.
I love innovation because I am motivated by learning, but not everyone is. So what I might see as a plus is actually a long downtime and emotional stress for others, and while we hear always “change is a constant” maybe change would benefit from checking now and then if it is actually worth it.
We must wait, but would you bet your house on it? Everyone will wait and see and Google’s strategy is to get the kids into it. They will bring it into the business when they grow up. Let me know what you think. Change must and will come, but with Microsoft putting its productivity tools online (Office 2010 on demand) the last word has definitely not be spoken on this little hype.