For years firms have searched for ways to accurately capture and share knowledge within the business. Vendors have responded with numerous technologies such as document sharing, web conferencing and unified communications. However, these discrete technologies provide greater value if they are combined. As a result, vendors acquired various technologies and collaboration 2.0 emerged as vendors integrated these features into suites. But the market is not standing still. Social software (i.e. wikis, blogs and social networking) as well as changes in software development (SOA, mashups and open source) are combining with these traditional collaboration technologies to create richer experiences. Collaboration 3.0 enables:
• Dynamic knowledge capture and management. What began as fairly static content, such as a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint document, will evolve into dynamic multimedia pieces of knowledge. For example, many data sources will be web-based and will have robust annotations-capabilities such as comments, photographs, links to web content and videos. Collaboration 3.0 will enable the real-time editing of documents in a manner that allows others to know the document is a work in progress. Instead of discrete data silos or conversations based on a single topic or project, collaboration 3.0 strives to create knowledge nuggets. These nuggets will be tagged using a variety of data exchange formats (RDF/OWL) that will allow pieces of information to be shared among multiple projects. This builds on the principle of the semantic web which is Wikipedia defines as “an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”
• Ad hoc as well as formal connections. What began as formalized workgroups within a company will migrate to formal and ad hoc communities that span internal and external resources. This is where social software is playing a critical role in changing how people find and interact with one another. Employees are now accustomed to creating and joining communities. By integrating enterprise-grade social software with collaboration, firms will enable secure and robust knowledge sharing environments that can support ad hoc internal work groups as well as partner and customer conversations.
• Shared versus horded knowledge. Expertise will be published inside as well as outside of the corporation, allowing businesses to tap into expertise on an as needed basis. We are seeing examples of this today on the consumer side with sites such as Wefollow and Tweetbio, which will filter over into the enterprise. Additionally, collaboration platforms will pull in data from various consumer and enterprise social networks as well as web sources (such as blogs and wikis) to create streams of knowledge. Going forward businesses will look for tools that safeguard confidential date while allowing non-confidential knowledge to be easily be shared or embedded in other areas such as blogs, Web sites etc.
• Platforms not just internal tools. Collaboration 3.0, while not a fully open source platform, will progress from today’s more closed environments to federated models. Collaboration 3.0 will evolve into platforms with APIs that allow others to easily build extensions and applications on top of the collaboration suite as well as embed collaboration features into other applications.
Last week, Google surprised the software world when it announced Google Wave. Mashup.com described the platform as “a real-time communication platform. It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client.” Google’s Wave is an early example of what collaboration 3.0 could look like. Granted it lacks the enterprise class features of security, control and possibly reliability. However, Google’s Wave provides an indication of what could be accomplished if we merge traditional collaboration tools such as email, IM and conferencing with enhanced social software.