Google is renowned for disrupting established standards. In the book Googled, Ken Auletta discusses several times where Google’s engineering approach disrupted previously long-established business models. I wonder whether Google isn’t doing it again in another area.
A few years ago, an MIT Sloan Review article ‘Shifting Cultural Gears in Technology-Driven Industries‘ asserted that:
In technology-driven industries, as core technologies mature and mainstream customers proliferate, the primary source of customer value inevitably shifts from product innovation to business innovation, which focuses on processes (product development, procurement, manufacturing, sales, distribution or services) and marketing (partnering, segmenting, positioning, packaging or branding). To meet the changing needs of customers, technology-driven companies must effect a corresponding shift in their own competencies. However, attempts to accomplish that through changes in strategy, structure, processes or rewards without changing the company’s underlying cultural assumptions are almost always doomed to failure because culture strongly shapes both the competencies and rigidities of a company.
Then along comes Larry Page, reinstalled as CEO of Google, and starts changing his company is a way that seems to do the opposite of the MIT article.
The main theme that seems to be emerging: An elimination of Google’s more centralized functional structure–where Rosenberg was one of several manager kingpins–to one in which the individual business units and their engineers, such as its most independent Android division, rule more autonomously.
Reimagined like this, Google would become an ambidextrous organization with more powerful unit line execs, mostly engineers, doing what needs to be done to succeed
So is Google moving in the opposite direction to that suggested in the MIT Sloan article?
I saw the news a little late, but Google at last provided synchronisation between Outlook 2010 and Google Calendar – about 6 months after Outlook 2010 came out. On the announcement I noticed that Google called it “our top feature request”, which indicates to me that a lot of people who use Outlook for calendaring also use Google Calendar – I am one of them.
It intrigues me that so many people use both services that it was such a big issue for Google, and I wonder why people use both? My reason is so that friends and colleagues outside my work can see my calendar for social and other activities, as well as a backup. Google reckons it is because people want to access to their calendars from devices other than just an office PCs. In my case I sync my calendar with the calendar on my cellphone, and I can still access my Outlook calendar on my laptop when I am away from the office, so Google’s reason doesn’t apply to me.
So if you are one of the (apparently) many Outlook and Google Calendar users, why do you use both?
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:
- Ease of access, access via browser
- Easy to read and edit
- The extensions, which are innovative and growing
- 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
- Support for all Office files
- 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.
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
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)
As a result of a problem with a previous desktop search, I have been testing out some desktop search applications available. My PC runs Windows XP so I didn’t include the Vista search. The three I tested were:
Of the three applications, the Windows search has the best user interface in my view. It searches file/email titles and contents, and search results are quick. My major problem with it were the search applications that run on the PC. There were several times when two programs - searchprotocol and searchfilterhost – took over the CPU and memory of my PC, rendering it inoperable for 15 minutes and longer. After a particularly bad experience when I could hardly use my PC for a day, I deleted Windows desktop search, and that’s when I started looking at other solutions.
I was made aware of Copernic via a comment on Twitter. The user interface was reasonable, but the free version I downloaded only searched file/email titles, not contents. After a short experiment, I deleted Copernic.
I turned to Google’s desktop search after another comment on Twitter. The user interface is browser oriented, which while not the best for me, it is acceptable. It searches file/email titles as well as contents. From a performance persepctive, the Google desktop search programs run surreptiously and don’t consume CPU or memory. The only problem is that Google have not made it easy to change the location of the search index. However, I found the following article on how to change the index location.
After a few weeks, I am still happy with the Google Desktop Search. I am interested in testing other applications if anyone wants to send me the information.
I am trying to find a RSS reader/aggregator that works for me. I have been comparing Google Reader and the RSS Feed in Microsoft Outlook 2007 to track the blog that I follow. An article I read recently compared a number of RSS Readers, including Google Reader, but didn’t mention Outlook - Which RSS Reader Is Right for You?
What I like about Outlook is that it holds all my incoming information in one place, if I’m offline I can still read the blog entries, and I can keep a history of blog entries. But I can’t easily share or personally note interesting blog entries without going online. When I started using the Outlook RSS feed, it seemed that, being in South Africa with our limited and costly broadband, having an on-premise app (Outlook on my laptop) for my RSS feeds was a good solution. But with the number of blogs I follow, Outlook can get slow at times, especially when starting up.
Initially I liked Google Reader but had trouble with it needing to be online, so I went over to Outlook full-time. Then I discovered Google Gears – in my terms, Gears is a database that provides offline capability for Google Reader. I prefer the user interface for Google Reader to that of Outlook, and I like ability to share and ‘star’ (note) blogs without having to tag them on my del.icio.us site.
The final decision hasn’t been made yet, and there have been times in the past when I thought I had found the ideal RSS reader for me, so I might still change my mind, but I am leaning towards Google Reader these days.