by Bill French on 30/06/09 at 7:25 pm
Bill French is an information architect specializing in Internet applications. He is also the co-founder of MyST Technology Partners and Senior Editor for iPhoneCTO.
Have you ever watched storm surf as waves crash into a steep shoreline? The outgoing and incoming waves collide, tossing water into the air at twice or triple the height of the surf. The energy is magnified and the turbulence is fierce.
About 18 months from now a relatively mature Google Wave,
Google Voice, and iPhone 4G, hereby dubbed “i4GWaVe“, will crash on the shores of corporate America unleashing a new paradigm of business energy with amazing force. The impact of these three technologies converging in your shirt pocket will change much about how we communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, and partners. But this particular convergence will also enable new types of communications processes to become part of every-day scenarios.
Today, few iPhone business users attempt, much less contemplate, rapid and common exchanges of real-time data, video, and transcribed conversations while dashing about. While it’s pretty easy to read and write tweets with your iPhone, how many users can say they updated corporate wikis for three projects, composed a half-dozen blog posts, replied to 30 email messages after reading 75 messages, and collaborated on three key business decisions using digital voice, text, and video — all in a days work and all from the palm of their hand? In 2010, these scenarios will be commonplace and businesses should plan now to leverage these collaboration capabilities to remain competitive.
I find it humorous to watch as IT organizations debate the merits of iPhone in the enterprise. CIOs and CTOs of major companies cite a plethora of reasons why iPhone isn’t ready for the enterprise; they bat these notions about like a piñata at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. But few of these uptight C-level naysayers seem concerned about hungry competitors and organizations with disruptive products and business philosophies who will adopt iPhone as if their future depends on it. In fact, for many, their future does depend on technological alchemies surrounding the iPhone as a mobile application platform.
Show me an organization that cares more about [perceived] security threats than getting work done, and I’ll show you a business tragedy in-the-making. Sure, it’s reasonable to be cautious about security and plan device management scalability, but weight must be given to competitive threats that could be amplified by new combinations of devices, software, and people that aren’t afraid to take risks.
i4GWaVe Collaboration Scenarios
Scenarios are speculation; good guesses, but speculative none-the-less. What you read below is pure speculation since I don’t have access to Google Wave nor does iPhone 4G exist (as far as I know). However, I do have access to iPhone 3G and I’ve been beta testing Google Voice for more than a year. Preparing for the future of mobile collaboration is a good exercise and it helps you connect the dots of the future. So, off we go with one scenario.
Imagine you’re a business development manager for a kitchen products manufacturer and you’re attending a trade show. As you
browse the trade show floor looking for interesting products to license or bundle into your existing product line, you notice a clever egg slicing tool. You have a sense that this would be an ideal addition to your line of breakfast products, but you want to explore it further with your breakfast products manager as well as your sales and marketing VP’s. The collaboration begins:
- You pull out your iPhone 4G and launch the GWave native app which is optimized for creating new Waves.
- With a single tap, you create a wave titled “EggZippy”.
- The inventor of EggZippy provides you with a comprehensive live demo of the product which you video with your iPhone.
- In a few taps, you attach the video to the EggZippy wave.
- With the video demo in the can, you invite your colleagues into the wave – they are each notified about the EggZippy wave and are able to watch the video demo within minutes of recording it.
- While your colleagues are enjoying the demo, you launch Google Voice and begin capturing a Q&A audio session with EggZippy’s inventor. At high velocity you are able to plow through 32 questions with great answers in rapid fire.
- The audio Q&A conversation is added to the wave with a few taps and auto transcription has already begun in the background by Google Voice. A voice-to-text transcription is automatically attached to the wave when complete.
- By now, your colleagues back at the office have digested the wave content, and they’ve begun to formulate a strategy regarding EggZippy by adding text comments into the wave.
- Your marketing VP is concerned about EggZippy competitors and potential patent issues, so she invites into the wave, the company’s patent researcher and its expert on competition in this space. Using Google Wave, each expert renders a tentative opinion which looks like emails but are presented as supporting memorandums in the wave. All of this activity is seen as it is happening in real-time on your iPhone.
- While your team is coming up to speed, you snap a few dozen photos of EggZippy from all angles as well as its product packaging, instructions, and even a portrait of the inventor. The images are automatically attached to the wave as you snap them.
- Your sales VP has hastily assembled a sales projection across all retailers and your product manager has plugged in base line costs of production and distribution. The spreadsheet unfolds live in the wave – the product looks like a winner.
- You ask the team to finalize the project with a templated pro-forma decision sheet with details about the sales and marketing strategy as well as licensing business terms.
- You shake hands with the inventor and schedule dinner for later that evening where you will provide him with a proposal. Before leaving the inventor’s booth, you capture his contact information and add it to the wave along with a photo of his business card. A quick wave IM to the legal department gets them started on a background check.
- At dinner, you open GWave on your iPhone, and the final proposal terms and product plan are waiting in the EggZippy wave to serve as your presentation and talking points as you negotiate the deal. There is also one snag reported in the wave by your legal department – they need an indemnification clause concerning recent financing activity by the inventor.
- When the deal is agreed upon in principle, you launch Google Voice once again and review the points with the inventor – the audio and text of the understanding is transcribed and added to the wave.
This scenario will likely be possible within 18 months, and Google is not the only company working on technologies that will make this a reality. I predict that Microsoft is likely to show something similar to Google Wave in the next year or so. Whether they also embrace iPhone is unknown, but one thing is certain, Microsoft’s massive adoption footprint in corporate and business email (Exchange and Outlook) is likely to provide a huge incentive to retain customers thinking about the benefits and agility of Google Wave.
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