Is social project collaboration the next big thing online? Will we finally see all of the separate tools that we currently use for communication and collaboration (email, IM, documents, micro-blogs, etc) integrate into seamless tools? Google is heading that way with Google Wave. Or, at least we think they are. Still waiting for that invite to come through…
Which leads me to the big problem with hyping a tool before you release it – your competitors will beat you to the punch. Maybe Google is banking that Wave will be cooler than anything else anyone else can rush to the market. But if your competitor comes out with a tool that works for everyone that wants to use it – people will stick with theirs no matter how cool your idea is.
That brings me to Zoho Projects 2.0. Many of the features sound similar to Google Wave – like integrating chat with online documents and project flow and all that. Zoho’s take on social project collaboration is a bit more business minded – you can create milestones and post progress updates and such. Zoho doesn’t hype the synchronous/asynchronous integration like Wave does, but it is there. Which I think is okay – I really don’t think people are going to care that much about switching between synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous communication is a huge drain on productivity, so I predict that many people will be turning off some of Google Wave’s synchronous innovations. Really – who needs synchronous online document editing? Too many editors in the room will cause some big arguments. There is a reason that face-to-face meetings only have one person at the white board taking notes, even thought many whiteboards are monstrous in size these days and there are usually enough pens for everyone to go around.
But the biggest missing feature of Zoho Project 2.0 is the open-source attitude that Google Wave embraces. The ability to install Google Wave on your server and then customize it the way you want will be killer. Zoho Projects will only be good for educational projects that can fit into it’s design and flow. Which will be several, no doubt – but Google Wave will potentially have the ability to adapt to whatever anyone wants. If you want to dig into the codes and/or APIs, that is.
Still, I can see Zoho Projects appealing to a certain mindset. For more information and a demo video, see this post: