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Google Wave promises a space in real time for people simultaneously working on a project, from different places. But Pune-based Colayer claims they developed this idea a decade back and are doing very well. Vishal Gangawane brings you the details
Posted On Saturday, July 04, 2009 at 04:52:44 AM
Google Wave could have well been born out of a decade-old idea that was developed in Pune. Colayer — a web conversation technology eerily similar to the Wave — is a name you might be hearing a lot more now, after Google Wave is launched later this year.
Years before Google thought of the Wave, Colayer came up with a technology they claimed would render email redundant. Imagine you are working on a project as a team.
To communicate frequently with all members, you use email. But email is not real time and works within the ‘isolation’ of your own inbox.
Your emails fragment information — for instance dealing with multiple copies of mails, the need to go back and check old email conversations, the issue of CCeing and BCCeing emails trying to keep everyone within the loop. Colayer makes all that go.
Everyone can see in real time, what team members do, what they work on — and all information stays at one place. All tools needed to communicate and work together are embedded into the Colayer platform.”
Colayer vs Wave
So how is Colayer different from Google Wave? Hegi said, “Communications happen within context, not within tools. Wave is at the beginning of its concepts.
It looked very impressive in the demo. If there is only a merger of different tools, a huge amount of information is created. But the underlying importance of structuring is lost.
Imagine if a company starts using Google Wave for its everyday communication, the participants will end up with an ocean of Waves.
The biggest problem will be that participants will not get a quick overview of what is new or relevant to them.
The content of a chat for example, the ‘Hello, how are you, and how is the weather’ does not have the same relevance as for example: the outcome of a meeting, decisions made, a final document or lists of open questions or open tasks.”
How Colayer really compares with Wave will probably only be understood in toto when the Wave is released, but Colayer is not worried about being drowned in the anticipated Wave hysteria.
Colayer thinks Google, or its competitors Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes, might buy them out. “It’s possible that Google wants to acquire us.
As Google Wave enters the market, today’s two main providers of collaboration software will have to re-think their strategies.
They may scan the market for Google Wave competitors. A takeover will not be the first option for us. We are debt-free and profitable.
The more Google Wave is successful, the more we will be. But we are open to all options, which are good for the development of the product, for our customers and for our employees,” said Hegi.
Quality vs licence fee
About Wave being free, Hegi says, “Licence fees are usually not an important factor to decide on a software. It’s mostly a small part of the total cost of ownership.
What is more important is the tool itself, and the service quality of the company providing it. There, we will have to compete, not with the licence fee.
As the concepts of Google Wave are similar to the concepts of Colayer, it is good for us if many users adopt Google Wave. We then have to explain whatever is different in Colayer.”
Best of both worlds
As for the Wave being an open source, Hegi said according to the information they had, only parts of the Wave were open source and Colayer will follow them there.
“The interfaces are open, and we will implement them into Colayer. A Colayer customer will have the best of Colayer and Google Wave on the Colayer platform.
Colayer is an integrated platform for different communication tools — Google Wave will be one more.
Customers are then free to use Colayer, Waves, emails, SMS, RSS, Web services, etc. on one single platform and they will also be able to use, whatever additions will be developed for Google Wave, as we will support the Wave interfaces.”
How Colayer works
If you work on many teams at once and are wondering about what’s happening at different places, Colayer is helpful.
An overview page based on your profile and preferences will screen out information in a structured way.
For instance, if you are a core member in a team, Colayer will update all content related to this team — discussions, drafts, to-dos, open tasks, agenda dates, set targets, etc.
The content comes in different forms: if two members chat, you will probably not care about the small talk, so you get only a summary of the chat, and on interest, you can see its details.
And for another project where you are only a supervisor, only important content — final documents, decisions taken and milestones reached.
If you are developing a report for the board for example: You create a new section for this task and start writing. While developing the report, you may need the latest sales data from a person currently not reachable.
So you send him an SMS, out of this report. He writes back the sales data to you and you integrate it. Then, you may have one paragraph in the report, which other team members need to write.
So, you place an explanation of how to develop this paragraph and call them to that place of the report. Finally, you may need also the latest market data.
The researcher is external and may not be on Colayer, so you send him an email from within the report. The response from the researcher is fed back into the report, says Hegi.
How Google Wave works
Here, you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and feeds from other Web sources.
They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It is concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave.
That means Wave is just as suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use ‘playback’ to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.
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