Stop, collaborate and listen

I don’t know, scarcely a week goes by without me seeing a raft of publicity materials extolling the virtues of yet another collaborative software solution. Whether it’s IBM Lotus, Chordiant, Novell, Microsoft or even WebEx, there’s always a smorgasbord of info out there from the most basic groupware technologies to the extended virtualised collaborative solutions of tomorrow.

I don’t know, scarcely a week goes by without me seeing a raft of publicity materials extolling the virtues of yet another collaborative software solution. Whether it’s IBM Lotus, Chordiant, Novell, Microsoft or even WebEx, there’s always a smorgasbord of info out there from the most basic groupware technologies to the extended virtualised collaborative solutions of tomorrow.

There’s undoubtedly value in providing all geographically (and even temporally dispersed) development teams with transparent participation in every step of the product development lifecycle. But as yet, I’ve been unable to cut through the hype and see beyond the so-called, “high-value mission-critical customer experience,” that these products are designed to deliver.

In a refreshing stab at explaining the pragmatic benefits of this section of the technology landscape I did learn from Chordiant that even the basics, like figuring out how the software in question works or how best to apply it to a business problem, becomes much easier when supported by a community-based development environment that includes people who actually developed the software and solutions and partners that have implemented them.

Is this an area too wrapped up in its own marketing-speak for your liking? Can you see beyond the ‘development ecosystem’ – or are you already in it and using these kind of solutions to really aid the software engineering that you do on a day to day basis?