Saturday, July 08, 2006

Today's Collaboration Forecast

Living in Seattle, you become quite accustomed to a constant drizzle. It's always kind of grey-- not necessarily dreary like a London sort of grey, just luminescent grey. It's also always a bit wet-- not necessarily soaking like a tropical downpour wet, just cool crisper wet (Seattlite's with grey and rain are kind of like Eskimo's with ice and snow). You get so used to it you don't see it anymore. For instance, there are plenty of times when I'll go for a walk in a T-Shirt and by the end of the walk it dawns on me 'Hey, I'm not soaking, but I'm cool crisper wet! Is it drizzling? Yep, and luminescent grey.'

It's usually not until a relative from a warm, sunny climate comes to town and views things through those Southern Californian eyes (it doesn't have to be from CA, it could be from anywhere-- and I'm not referring to my brother Thomas who lives in Southern California and just visited). That relative is only too happy to point out the actual state of affairs here in the Northwest, weather-wise, and quickly suggests alternatives, such as moving to Southern California.

When this happens, I quickly remember what my last visit to Southern California was like and recollect the earthquake I survived, the eight lanes of cars I battled and the omnipresence of Michael Jackson on every TV channel. At this, the semi-named relative mirrors my shocked face of moments ago and responds in earnest 'We have earthquakes?'

My point is not to compare and contrast The Great Pacific Northwest and s. calif, but to point out it is very easy, and indeed expected human behaviour, to miss the obvious. In software, when things become so obvious they are categorized as 'ignore' is the marker of the penultimate moment before the change. That is to say, the moment before the moment. Or let's just stick with the calm before the storm.

Are the winds of collaboration ready to blow? Well let's see. Are there any seismic shifts going on that people are taking for granted? How about Web 2.0. Are there any forgotton technologies in use that are really quite useful? Maybe things like SharePoint, WebDAV, Web Services-- all things announced several years ago and quite boring, right?

Any changes in the business landscape that seem important but are in their early stages? How about Google pushing more online applications with greater interactivity and Microsoft responding by paying the world's largest signing bonus to Ray Ozzie and the folks from Groove? AND Ray being empowered to follow his vision with Windows Live.

And where does TeamDirection come in? We hooked a ride with Groove and rode it from the shore to the break. Now we are among the surfers bobbing in the swell looking for their next ride. And we're not alone. But we're making our bets on enabling collaborative tools like SharePoint, Groove, Web Services, WebDAV, Instant Messaging and Smart Clients to catch the perfect wave. I can see it building now...

Surfing? Waves? Maybe its time to visit my brother in Southern California.

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