Google Wave vs. SharePoint

I have done a comparison of products from Google and Microsoft before, and now it’s time for another one – this time on Google Wave vs. SharePoint. At my office, we have been trying out  Google Wave, but  we are also a starting to use SharePoint so I have had the opportunity to use both.

Google Wave is a web application for real-time communication and collaboration. That means it allows you to view a document or a conversation at the same time that someone else is editing and updating it, and see those changes happen in real-time. The Google spin is that “With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.” Note that Google still refer to Wave as a beta-test product.

SharePoint (officially its Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, aka MOSS) is a product that Microsoft have been gradually developing and building for the last 3-4 years. It provides a platform for content and document management, collaboration and enterprise portals.

Here is my Pros and Cons of both products:

Wave

Pros

  • Ease of access, access via browser
  • Easy to read and edit
  • The extensions, which are innovative and growing

Cons

  • If you are using Internet Explorer, the Chrome Framework is required
  • Sign-up for non-Google users is laborious
  • No printing capability
  • Poor support for export/import docs (an extension to do that didn’t seem to work and was difficult to understand)
  • The results of pasting text is not predictable

SharePoint

Pros

  • Support for all Office files

Cons

  • Hierarchical nature – everything is part of a hierarchy of information, which can make finding documents difficult
  • From my experiences elsewhere, it is implementation specific
  • The process of checking documents out to edit them, and then checking back in is confusing and annoying

Both applications provide alerts for when documents change.

Overall report

While I think Google Wave is a great tool, it has been difficult to get many in my office to adopt it. In effect, moving to Google Wave is also a change management project. Another Google Wave project sums up a number of issues:

  • Not everyone has access to it, nor do most people care to get access
  • It’s slow
  • We weren’t using it right

Although a larger project seems to have been successful.

When I started planning this blog, I wasn’t sure how I would end it. However, in the last week a new development has introduced a new slant – Microsoft’s announcment of Office 2010, which includes a new feature called ‘co-authoring‘. This appears to offer the same functionality as Google Wave - allowing multiple people to work on a document at the same time. If Office 2010 delivers on the promise it appears to offer, Google Wave is not going to get into the enterprise.

Why Google has taken so long working on Wave in beta, and not given it the capabilities that enterprises require, I do not know. If they want to get it adopted in companies, Google needs to start considering the organisational issues of implementing the system, and not just focus on cool technology features.

At the moment, I think Google has squandered a good chance it had of getting into the enterprise via a route that (initially) didn’t compete head-on with Microsoft. Unless Google make some substantial development efforts very soon I think they will lose out. Do you agree? What is your experience with Wave?

(Note: The comments expressed here are my own, based on my experiences with the products, and do not necessarialy reflect the views of my employer)

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4 thoughts on “Google Wave vs. SharePoint

  1. Good and insightful comparison between Wave and Sharepoint.

    I personally have tried both apps and both do a good job helping organizations with office collaboration and document management.

    I believe Google Wave’s objective is to allow the public as a whole to easily collaborate on any discussion based topics. When it’s launched later on, it might just take over emails.

    Sharepoint on the other hand is still very oriented toward enterprises and small businesses. If they want more users coming from the public, then they need to open up a lot of its features. Maybe a SaaS based Sharepoint for more to try out and adopt.

    Google Wave working together with Google Apps might just be the next big thing that everyone goes for. The only concern is on data privacy and security that people are worried about when it comes to storing their information online with Google. This is one key reason why many organizations are still deploying Sharepoint since they can manage a lot of the P&C stuffs.

    Just my thoughts! Hey, if time permits, come check out my site as well. http://www.wareprise.com Cheers.

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