When Zoho projects 2.0 was released, I wrote a post about the evolution of project management. In the post, I talked about the nature of Project Management 2.0
Project Management 2.0 can be considered as the combination of
traditional project management with collaborative and social components
In the same post,
I also dug in a little deep into the progression of project management
applications. From the days of Microsoft Project, which actually didn’t
help much beyond the initial planning stages, to its evolution into a
web based app (initial Project Management SaaS Apps) to the marriage
between project management apps and wikis to the addition of social
layer, we are seeing tremendous progress in the advancement of Project
Management SaaS applications. When Zoho announced Zoho Projects 2.0, they integrated Zoho chat into their project management app and took the first steps into real time collaboration.
With this release, Zoho has integrated Zoho Wiki with Zoho Projects (a
possibility I predicted in my PbWorks post without actually having any
knowledge about what is brewing in the Zoho factory). Along with this
integration, they have added a Twitter like status update into the app.
As they have done with some of their other offerings, they have
integrated the Zoho chat feature into the app so that team members can
interact in real time.
The integration of real time collaboration to Project Management
software is the next obvious iteration from
an asynchronous collaboration offered by the earlier tools like Wikis and others. When Zoho announced the chat
integration, I was expecting other players to bring in real time
collaboration as well. Yesterday Pbworks, formerly Pbwiki and our
previous coverage here and here, announced the
integration of real time collaboration in their apps. The real time
collaboration features of Pbworks goes far beyond just a simple instant
messenger integration. It also includes voice collaboration, live
notifications and live editing.
An instant messenger in a project management app is good for a quick
question or checking something real fast with another team member but for detailed discussions about the project
with a team member working from a remote location or with a
client who is not using the project management tool, the instant
messenger is very limiting. This resulted in the use of old fashioned
telephones or VOIP tools or standalone web conferencing software like
webex along with the project management apps. This not only added to the overhead costs but also increased the
complexity of the workflow. The integration of voice communication
within the project management app is a killer feature in this regard. I asked Chris
Yeh, VP, Enterprise Marketing at Pbworks, about the next obvious step
of video integration. He told me that even though it is not expected
anytime soon, it is on their roadmap.
With the preview release of Google Wave, we are expecting a tremendous
shift in the way we do collaboration. Google Wave is an unique blend of
many communication and collaboration tools like email, chat, wikis,
social networking (through a possible wide array of plugins), etc..
This new real time and interactive platform has a potential to shake up
the communication and collaboration part of any project management app.
With the announcement of the federation of Google Wave and the
possibility for anyone to run their own Google Wave server, it is just a matter of
time before the project management vendors integrate such real time
collaboration and interactivity inside their apps. Pbworks jumps first
into this game with the new Live Editing feature which will eliminate
the need to use other web conferencing services to share a PBworks
editing session. Whenever a user is editing a workspace page, other
users viewing that page see the edits appear in real-time. When
combined with IM Collaboration, Live Editing makes it easy to convene
an ad hoc meeting for working synchronously. Even though Google Wave is
a great tool in the future, Pbworks offers some of similar
functionality with enterprise reliability right now.
Live Notifications is another component of their real time feature set.
With this, users can get instantaneous notifications of the activities
of others in the team based on their own preferences. Users get to have
a fine grained control over what kind of notifications they will
receive including the selections of pages, users, etc..
IM Collaboration, Live Notifications, and Live Editing will be
available to the customers of Pbworks Project edition and Legal edition
free of cost on Nov. 17th. The voice conferencing feature will be
available in the early 2010 and they haven’t decided on the pricing
yet. With the availability of free calls to many countries worldwide
through Voice Over IP services, I don’t expect them to cost a fortune.
In my opinion, Project Management is the fastest evolving applications
in the SaaS ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how Zoho,
Socialtext, Manymoon, etc. respond to this move by Pbworks.
Disclaimer: Chris Yeh,
a guest blogger here at Cloud Ave is also the VP, Enterprise Marketing
at Pbworks. But this is my independent opinion based on the online
presentation as it is done with other bloggers and media people. Zoho,
mentioned above in the post, is a sponsor of this blog but it is an
independent analysis by me.