Saturday, December 20, 2008

Collaboration in 2009, who will provide the service?

As the crisis, or recession if you prefer, comes down, companies are cutting costs. Travel is one of the first elements to go as I stated earlier. This leaves room for collaboration tools, environments and best practices. So the question really is who will deliver this?

In his blog, Ross Mayfield refers to a perspective provided by Gil Yehuda from Forrester, refering to IT driven  and bottoms up collaboration, he calls tech populist. He points out that IT departments react by trying to block businesses from getting software services from the cloud as they are difficult to manage. This reminds me about a large company that wanted to use Google Documents earlier this year to share information with suppliers. It sounded real practical and easy, till one of the key directors found one of the companies documents listed in good place in one of his Google searches. That stopped the experiment right there.

IMG_0235 copy So, on the one hand we have IT departments whose budgets are being cut and on the other, users that increasingly will require collaboration tools as they are hindered to travel to partners, suppliers and customers. Are the two really incompatible? Maybe not.

In an earlier entry I mentioned I was starting to look at the brand new Windows Live integrated environment. At the first glance it provides an interesting environment for collaboration, including storage space, calendar, document management (sharepoint in the cloud), instant messaging etc. Although it is new and comes from Microsoft, which gets a number of people angry for no other reason, it is a well rounded environment that can facilitate team collaboration.

Many of the critics point out that Facebook and Myspace provide similar, or for some better, features. That may be so for individual users that want to share photos and videos. What I like in Windows Live its the capability to manage documents, share large files and other similar features.

If Microsoft can demonstrate a good level of security , a reliable environment and integration with some social networking sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo, this environment may be ready for businesses to collaborate. In doing so they would position themselves differently, which could result in a brand new business environment for them. It's really worth monitoring.

Will IT departments allow such collaboration? It's a good question, but as it comes from Microsoft and has a good integration with the existing desktop applications, one may hope so.

On a totally different note, may I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I have enjoyed developing this blog over the last 6 months. I hope it turned out useful for all of you. If I may have one wish, it would be to hear a little more from you. Let's hope for a great 2009, despite all. May the little bird sing, reminding us that spring is getting closer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Google, Microsoft and the Internet

Today I ran into a couple interesting articles. One in particular spoke about Google's invisibility cloak. Forbes highlights the fact that web researcher net applications recently discovered that between 11 and 30% of traffic streaming out of Google is stripped of its usual identification. In other words the company is unable to make out on which operating system the originating application runs. The article continues by assuming that Google is developing their own operating system to avoid having to rely on Microsoft. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen and only the future will tell. Google was not available for comment, is and that's what they usually say when the information is correct but they are not intending to admit.

This gets me to a question that I have been hounded by for quite awhile. Many people baIMG_0867sh Microsoft as the company that wants to concur the world, and name Google as the savior but I increasingly have the impression that Google is doing exactly the same as Microsoft a number of years ago. Secretly they are trying to get hold of every Internet related information that we convey from our computers. It is the secrecy that actually makes it even worse than what Microsoft has been doing. At least Microsoft was predictable.

At this point in time a big battle is starting. On the one side Google has been coming from the Internet and is now trying to take over our desktops and mobiles, while on the other Microsoft has started from our desktops and mobiles and is now, through the launch of there windows live environment, trying to attract us to their own Internet space.

I have to admit that the windows live environment appears to be an interesting one, not in its individual functions, but in the way the functions are integrated. They seem to have done a good job not just of integrating the functions that are running on the Internet, but also the Internet with the desktop. It's worth trying it out.

My belief is that there is place for two competitors in this space, and I really don't know who is going to win. However, what I do not agree with is that the one of them is presented as the devil while the other is the savior. I believe both companies have their own economical strategies and a common objectives to make money. Both are trying to maximize the amount of money they make and consider us as a vehicle to do so.

Unfortunately, as both environments are completely incompatible, to collaborate with others one will have to make a choice. As each of us will end up with its own preference, to avoid turf wars we will all end up requiring identifiers in both emvironments and we will have to learn to use both. But that's the prize of competition I suppose.