As part of a MeetUp this week, Gina Trapani founder of LifeHacker gave us an update on the status of Google Wave. Since another 100,000 people are to be given access to the Beta in a few weeks I was extremely interested in the update.
Here’s my take:
- Despite Google’s recent announcement on Wave, I do not believe Wave is ready for it’s 100,000 customer preview on September 30. Wave appeared buggy and froze many times during the demo. As a result, don’t expect a smooth experience any time soon.
- According to Gina, working with Wave is a major fundamental shift in how people collaborate. It will take time to adapt to the change. The adoption cycle will be long.
- So far there is no email integration which as I wrote in my Google Wave Enterprise post is another major roadblock to early mass adoption. No one wants to work in multiple communication vehicles especially when they are already bogged down by email.
- No one seems to have thought out the spam issue. Invites to participate in a new Wave appear uncontrollable which means a coming wave of spam invites. If you lock down Wave invites to your contact list, then viral adoption of Wave will be limited. Also, look for Spam Bots that wreak havoc when added intentionally or unintentionally to a Wave.
- Google needs to fix the playback controller. Yes it’s cool, but if a Wave is longer than a page, you’ll need to know when to scroll down during a Wave replay. The playback controller should understand when to scroll or develop a better interface to show how the Wave developed.
- Wave servers appear to be federated, but may need to ask permission in order for one server to talk with another. Again, a potential adoption issue.
- Wave data is unstructured and does not appear to have a robust taxonomy. This will limit the collaboration and reporting capabilities if it’s used within the Enterprise.
Overall, Google Wave is above and beyond email in usefulness and features. In fact, Wave appears to be an email upgrade. The fact that Wave is open source is big and creating a platform with open protocols for developers to build on is brilliant. Yet despite the promise, Wave will need to overcome a number of usability challenges. Expect a long adoption cycle.
CIO Summary: Wave isn’t ready for the Enterprise and it doesn’t appear fit for distribution on September 30. Yet keep an eye on Wave developments to avoid being blind-sided by rogue installations. Be proactive in learning the full capabilities of the tool and potentially how they can benefit the company. Similar to email, Wave will mature into a tool that will have significant impact on your company. It’s best to stay ahead of the flood.
(Cross-posted @ Seek Omega)