Friday, December 17, 2004

Rapid Solutions Exchange

During the last couple of weeks I've had the time and opportunity to deliver half a dozen Intro to Groove online training courses to three global organizations currently deploying Groove. This effort has made me reflect about the enablers and barriers re: the adoption of the technology.

Groove has been designed and is tailored to be adopted at three different levels:
1) Sharing Files and folders
2) Managing Projects
3) Extending Processes

All of them, naturally, facilitating inter-enterprise secure collaboration, offline support, automatic synchronization, etc..

Let's start with the corporate world first of all. I think Groove's added-value here comes as a platform for extending current centralized internal processes across organizational boundaries, ensuring secure rich communications among distributed individuals from different companies. The way we do business today has changed. We all work from home every now and then, we work with colleagues from other companies, some of them are ex-corporate who are all of the sudden external independent consultants, and most of us are rarely in the office for longer than three days in a row. As Ray Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes and current chairman and CEO of Groove Networks highlights in this interview, "whereas Notes was more about changing the nature of the organization, Groove was about changing the nature of business in general". As I've noticed from most Groove corporate users during the last few weeks, this a true realm. The way we collaborate today with our project colleagues has changed for good. Mobility and external collaboration is a major NEED, we need to learn how to work better and closer to our project partners, regardless of their location, time-zones, cultural and organizational ties, gee...why do I need to get in touch with your systems administrator if all I want to do is work with you and your team during the next couple of weeks? We need tools that help us "connect".

We are all addicted to email, (next time you jump on a train with commuters or a boarding gate in an airport, take a minute and observe everyone around you connected to their BlackBerrys, wireless connected laptops and the likes...mobility is here folks!!). Unfortunately email is not enough, what really bangs my productivity and the one of the ones working with me is shared spaces, the docs + messaging containers of all my current projects. To my surprise people take longer than expected to get used to working in shared spaces, it required too many things to be changed too quickly. The times when the shared space recipe sticks is when it is embedded in the process and people just about notice it. I believe in incremental change, taking things step by step. That's why I believe Groove Forms are such an important evolution, because it enables corporations to rapidly and cost-effectively extend and synchronize their current systems (i.e. SAP, Siebel, Oracle etc) and processes outside their corporate walls. In fact, the success of Groove depends on how quickly it can adapt to ongoing business processes. I haven't seen many projects where a newly introduced process takes everyone on board and bangs it. It's the little steps that make the difference.

In this line, I see with interest and satisfaction Groove putting big efforts on encouraging external partners and VARs into developing applications on the Groove platform. I strongly encourage everyone visiting the Rapid Solutions Exchange site and trying out some of the solutions. We currently use within our small company in Spain the Customer Reference and the Time Card solutions for managing our accounts and our day to day work. These two little applications on its own have tremendously helped us change the way we do business today.

In the next coming days, I will write in more detail how we use Groove to run our business. A good example to any SME with a need to be more agile and reactive to market opportunities. We've applied the 3 years of experience of Groove usage as a user and consultant to running a business on Groove. Today, Groove acts as our CRM, our Intranet, our shared network drive, project management tool and customer support platform.

Happy Christmas to all of you.

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