Web-based collaboration apps invade the enterprise

Web-based collaboration apps invade the enterprise

Summary: Stowe Boyd recently spoke to Adam Gartenberg - the Offering Manager, Real-time and Team Collaboration, IBM Workplace and Lotus Software - about real time collaboration in the enterprise: "He [Adam Gartenberg] pointed out that instant messaging and other lightweight collaboration tools seem to come into the enterprise through individual use, and can rapidly spread virally, without any official sanctioning.

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TOPICS: Software
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Stowe Boyd recently spoke to Adam Gartenberg - the Offering Manager, Real-time and Team Collaboration, IBM Workplace and Lotus Software - about real time collaboration in the enterprise:

"He [Adam Gartenberg] pointed out that instant messaging and other lightweight collaboration tools seem to come into the enterprise through individual use, and can rapidly spread virally, without any official sanctioning. Adam suggested that only 25% of the companies involved in a recent survey have standardized on real time collaboration tools: three quarters of the enterprises either find benefit in allowing multiple web conferencing, IM, or other real time tools."
(emphasis mine)

This is Web apps are raising the bar for real-time collaboration in the enterprise more evidence of consumer web 2.0 applications driving innovation in the enterprise. Not only are apps like Skype much more cost-effective, but there are a lot of 'best-of-breed' office tools available on the Web now - like Writely, Jotspot Tracker, Basecamp. 

Many of these web-based office apps have some form of real-time collaboration too - e.g. Gmail is integrated with Google's Calendar and Chat products; Writely enables users to collaborate on a document; Basecamp features message boards, to-do lists, simple scheduling, collaborative writing, and file sharing. Then you have products like Zimbra and the soon-to-be-released Dabble DB. The 'Zimbra Collaboration Suite' features email, contacts, and group calendaring. Dabble DB is a mix of online spreadsheet, online database and web app builder - all in one collaborative web app.

vyew.pngI've also recently discovered a web conferencing product called Vyew.com, which is a free browser-based conferencing and collaboration platform. Vyew allows users to create meetings from any computer with a broadband connection and obviously has a lot of potential uses in the enterprise, as well as small businesses. I haven't had a chance to check it out in detail yet, but Robin Good has an excellent review.

All in all, it's no surprise to me that 3/4 of enterprises in the survey Adam Gartenberg of IBM referenced "find benefit in allowing multiple web conferencing, IM, or other real time tools". As well as the cost efficiencies and sheer variety of 'best of breed' apps on the market, the likes of Dabble DB and Zimbra show there is real innovation happening in the real-time collaboration front.

So it's clear that web-based Office tools are actually raising the bar for real-time collaboration in the enterprise. These new forms of web apps infiltrating the enterprise - VoIP apps like Skype, online word processing, wikis, hybrid products like Dabble DB and Zimbra - will gradually usurp legacy collaboration apps. 

Topic: Software

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  • Often Need Coexistence to Enable New Stuff

    Nice article.

    Web-based tools really are "raising the bar". But in many enterprises, they can end up getting locked out if they don't play nicely with legacy applications. Take a case as apparently harmless as IM - in some places, IM is blocked until IT figures out how to integrate it with existing archiving solutions for regulatory compliance.

    And the deeper you get into the existing infrastructure, the more effective co-existence needs to be to enable new approaches to "gradually usurp" the legacy.

    For instance, for core email, calendaring and collaboration, PostPath has gone out of its way to create real "drop-in" interoperability with existing Exchange infrastructure (see here, for example: http://www.postpath.com/products/ppsd/compatibility).

    Samba does similarly for file-and-print.

    For many core IT applications this kind of deep legacy interoperability is really required, in most enterprises anyway, to enable a move to new ways of doing things - or, more precisely, to enable a move to combinations of different ways of doing things. For these apps, you want the Web2.0-ish innovation - but you also need real legacy co-existence to enable you to get there.
    dgreatwood
    • Re: Often Need Coexistence to Enable New Stuff

      Great point, thanks dgreatwood.
      Web20Explorer