Corporations not jumping into Wave
By Steve Alexander
Star Tribune Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS — Google's latest brainchild, Google Wave, is all the rage among bleeding-edge technology enthusiasts. But corporate information technology executives say that while they're intrigued by Wave — a replacement for e-mail, the most widely used of all Internet services — they're not ready to adopt it.
Part of the reason is a reluctance to entrust vital data to someone else's servers, even those of Google.
But another factor is old-fashioned resistance to change.
"If I knew how long it will take for Google Wave to be adopted, I'd be a lot richer than I am," said Stuart DeVaan, CEO of Implex.net, a Minneapolis firm that provides IT outsourcing of services such as e-mail to 2,000 firms worldwide. "The user experience is the holy grail of computing, and once people are used to using something like e-mail it's hard to get them to use something different. Google will have to win people over by proving Wave offers a better user experience."
With Wave, people can exchange messages, share or edit documents, even play games in a computer desktop space that is shared by many people simultaneously. Google introduced it for testing by a select group of users in May, and in September opened up the testing — by invitation only — to about 100,000 people.
Wave immediately ran into a wave of skepticism.
"People have a reluctance to change," said Mark Bowker, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. "E-mail is pretty simple, and people understand what it does. Maybe the consolidation of instant messaging and e-mail Google Wave represents makes sense, but it might be years before it happens."
"I kind of like Google Wave," said Bill Konkol, vice president of technology for Hopkins radio advertising firm Marketing Architects. "It saves running separate computer servers to do a lot of different things, such as live video meetings, instant messaging and e-mail. But are people willing to trust Google Wave as a replacement for e-mail? That's going to take years. After all, it's taken some time for people to adopt Gmail, Google's free e-mail."
Gmail, introduced in 2004, has only recently been adopted by universities that plan to outsource student e-mail to Google to save money.
But, just as Gmail simplifies life for universities running big e-mail systems, some, such as blogger Daniel Tenner, believe Google Wave simplifies e-mail overall.
For example, employees no longer have to collaborate on documents by e-mailing them back and forth; they look at the documents together. Wave also makes it easier to bring in new collaborators without forcing them to speed through a long list of e-mails that have already been sent back and forth. In addition, Wave allows much bigger attachments than e-mail typically does, and, when e-mail messages are flying furiously back and forth, it automatically downshifts into the faster instant messaging mode.