IAM Alert: PBWorks Takes it RealTime

Information Architected Market Alert (IAM Alert):
PBWorks (formerly PBWiki) has announced a “Real-time Collaboration Update” – bringing integrated Instant Messaging collaboration, Live Notifications (activity streams), Live Editing (rather than standard wiki asynchronous editing) and announced (shipping Q1 2010) integrated Voice Collaboration (on-demand voice conferencing). (See PBworks and PR for more details)

Wiki Acceleration

The Wiki World has transformed radically this year, representing major disruptions to the notions of what wikis even are compared to the first wiki from Ward Cunningham in 1995.

Having been one of the earliest analysts to cover Wikis starting in early 2003 (while at Delphi Group), it has been fascinating to see the classic disruptive innovation (ala Clayton Christensen) of wikis and Enterprise 2.0 dismantle the established 1.0 players (whether content, knowledge, information or collaboration solution providers), forcing them to acknowledge the changing notions, price and complexity of collaboration and content.

Collaboration Convergence – Beyond Wiki

With PBworks’ latest release, the convergence of collaboration of many types becomes even tighter and ‘in the flow’ than ever before.

For those times when classic wiki check-in/out is not enough, now there is realtime wiki collaboration (Live Editing).

For when a separate bridge line or concall would be necessary to talk live with colleagues, there is now realtime voice (Voice Collaboration – announced and anticipated Q1 2010) .

For times when voice isn’t necessary (or can’t be done, such as working from a hotel lobby, Starbucks, airport, conference/seminar, etc.) there is integrated IM Collaboration (rather than as a separate screen/page, as with MediaWiki and others).

Collapse the Silos – Getting Usable

The silos of collaboration are suddenly dropping away as Enterprise 2.0 providers embrace the needs of realtime, converged interfaces. Combine this with business wikis having long since dropped wiki markup in favor of WYSIWYG for humans, and the maturity of wikis has never been more capable of challenging the expected norms of enterprise collaboration.

Facing RealTime Competition

While Google has announced in their tightly controlled “preview release” of Google Wave, very similar features to this release by PBWorks, or related offerings from EtherPad, and to a lesser extent, the platform which SocialText released recently, Wave suffers from a major problem now. You can’t collaborate with someone on/in Wave until they’ve been let into the system – which is absolutely unlike ANY other web-based collaboration system I can think of.

So in a very real sense, Google Wave is no competition at all to this release, or any of the others pursuing RealTime collaboration RIGHT NOW.

That said, Google Wave is a “preview” release – not enough worthy of being called a “beta” release (and Gmail only had the beta tag removed in the last 6 months).

So the release of Wave is really more about gathering feedback from people while they refine it, and also in generating buzz around Wave precisely because they have made it a SCARCE resource. If it wasn’t for the scarcity of invites, I suspect we’d all be talking far less about the offering.

The Rising Tide

As one might expect, the brewing viral buzz “wave” of Google Wave may well be unstoppable, but as to whether Google “wins” this space or not (they are not infallible, and have shut down plenty of large and small experiments.

But if nothing else, we are right on the verge of whatever mix of real-time/asynchronous communication and collaboration we want, and prices we’ve never seen before. Enterprise 2.0 has made gigantic strides in the face of the economic meltdown, and we are all beneficiaries.

Anyone pursuing RealTime collaboration, please weigh in. What are YOU using? How do PBWorks, EtherPad, SocialText, Wave et al standup vs. other options? Does RealTime even matter to your use cases, or is Wiki 1.0 good enough?

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