The real-time web is proving itself disruptive in the enterprise space. But it's not viable unless users may utilize technologies like live editing or voice collaboration on top of a real-time environment.
At the Enterprise 2.0 conference over the next few days we will be watching companies that give users the ability to integrate voice and other technologies with intuitive, real-time capabilities.
In that regard, we look favorably on PBWorks' new collaboration offering.
PBWorks is formerly PBWiki. In its early years, the company focused on providing wiki technologies. But like a number of companies in the wiki space, PBWorks is now more of a real-time technology company more than a wiki provider. We find the wiki space challenging as many of the original providers got their start during a time when "portals" still dominated the enterprise. Wikis worked as a complement to portals. "Web pages," by their very definition, are far more related to "documents," than activity streams.
In this regard, we view the real-time web as a true disruptor in the enterprise market. But it can not act alone. A full product must have core collaborative elements such as voice collaboration. Web conferencing is a start but it still requires users to use an application separately from the other services they may use. Voice collaboration is a far better method as it is integrated directly into the application.
PBWorks cited Google Wave in their demo. They say PBWorks is a ready product, offering unified collaboration. Google Wave is still in beta mode.
Perhaps, but to be fair, PBWorks' users will have to wait until early 2010 for voice collaboration.
New features for PBWorks include:
IM Collaboration: The ability to keep abreast of what others are doing in real-time. Updates appear within an instant message environment. Users may send a link within the IM message to tell other users what they are editing.
Live Notification: Users can be alerted to new content or other events in real-time. Users may mark different wiki pages by "starring," or "following" particular pages. When those pages are edited, users receive a notification.
Live Editing: Users may watch documents get edited in real-time. Users may edit and use IM Collaboration to form ad hoc meetings.
Voice Collaboration: PBWorks' voice collaboration service will be available in early 2010. It will provide the ability to initiate conference calls within the application. Think Skype integrated not a collaboration service.
PBWorks' new offerings are a clear sign the Enterprise 2.0 space is growing up and will change significantly with the advent of the real-time web. Documents are not going away but the messaging layer is widening in the enterprise, filling it with lightweight technologies that can be used instantly, without the hurdles that come with asynchronous notifications.