Can Google Wave conquer the enterprise?

Summary:Google Wave, the all-in-one browser-based communications technology, looks like it could revolutionise communications. The company's clearly thought about what needs to be done to bring the whole mish-mash of email, IM, and other daily comms systems under a single roof.

Google Wave, the all-in-one browser-based communications technology, looks like it could revolutionise communications. The company's clearly thought about what needs to be done to bring the whole mish-mash of email, IM, and other daily comms systems under a single roof. And it makes a huge amount of sense.

Email conversations where people join the thread after others, making meetings happen, discussing the latest project, all happen over email now but Google's new approach shows how much the system needs an overhaul. And it's likely that only an organisation with a footprint the size of Google's – or Microsoft's, were it even slightly in Redmond's interests to do so – could propose such a change with a view, realistically, to having it adopted.

Google's engineers demonstrated the system at Google IO, the company's recent devcon, using personal communications, such as organising a shopping trip, and dropping shared photos into a common bucket. But make no mistake: the market that Google will want to attack is the enterprise. And enterprises have proved remarkably leaky when it comes to web-based technologies, such as IM, Facebook, Twitter et al, so the longer-term prospects are propitious.

One key problem is that increasing use of Google Wave will give already over-stretched employees yet another location where they need to check their emails and other comms, in addition to the ones they have already. Because, mark my words, enterprises are not going to give up email anytime soon. What's more they'll want to retain control of that information, not least for compliance reasons in many sectors, which implies internally not externally hosted systems.

So for control and for productivity reasons, despite its initial attractions, I suspect we'll see large organisations taking a long time evaluating the technology before making a decision. The problem is that, by this time, employees might well have voted with their fingers and be using it anyway – just as happened with IM and is happening now with Twitter.

Topics: Networking

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Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger. As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites. I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceo... Full Bio

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