An Assessment of


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In the wake of Google’s recent launch of Google Waves, which it sees as the future of online collaboration, Adobe recently took out its web based productivity suite,, out of beta and introduced its version of online spreadsheets, Tables, to add to its already existing online word processor, Buzzword.

As opposed to Google’s minimalistic style, presents a highly visually appealing environment where teams can get together in real time and collaborate on files, as well as avail online meeting and screen sharing functions. The service has acheived massive success in its beta phase, with Erik Larson, director of marketing and product management for Adobe’s business productivity, reporting in his blog that a staggering 100k users were signing up every week.

What interested me was a conversation in the comments area of Erik’s blog about his conceptulaization of the future of collaboration. Erik sees it as a highly decentralized process, where teams can get together at the drop of a hat, and seamlessly collaborate on information with minimal obstruction. A commentor had suggested that such a collaborative environment was not conducive for businesses, which require a certain amount of structure and control. The commentor had suggested HyperOffice’s online team collaboration software for SMBs as an intermediate between Adobe’s highly decentralized, self service, pure collaboration on information, to MS SharePoint’s highly structured, IT oriented collaborative environment.

I rather agree with the commentor’s argument, as the ability to effortlessly collaborate on information, although a great asset, is not sufficient for organizations and teams. It is more suitable for temperory teams or ad hoc groups, which get together to work on something, and quickly disband. Ongoing teams, or departments, however, need to do work of recurring nature, which a productivity or collaboration software needs to cater to as well. I’ve listed them below, and the corresponding technological solution which cater to those needs.

1) The need to coordinate schedules – Group Calendars
2) The need to organize information by group – Group workspaces (as opposed to Acrobat’s temporary workspaces which club all of the groups information and tools in a single place
3) The need for control – Permissions management. The ability to control access to different levels of information and the degree of access to information
4) The managerial need to delegate and track tasks – Project management tools which allow delegation of tasks, scheduling of these tasks, and task tracking
5) Team discussions – Discussion forums which allow teams to have dicussions around collaboration or team issues, and store these discussions as organzational learning.
6) HR needs – The collaborative software should also cater to the HR needs of an organization, like the ability to publish announcements, policy documents, or motivate employees through awards or recognition.

To present pure collaborative features, within the structure of the above tools would be ideal from a business perspective.

Pankaj Taneja
Pankaj Taneja is Director, Online Marketing and Product Management at HyperOffice. He is keenly interested in the organizational dynamics of teamwork, and the technological drivers of the future of work.


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