GWSUG - March and Business People and Wave
Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to catch the March Google Wave Sydney Users Group at Google headquarters in Sydney.
The focus of this meetup wasn't going to be the mechanics behind wave so much as the uses that a networking group was putting wave to in the day to day management of the group. This piqued my interest as we've had a lot about the mechanics and what wave could do, but not an awful lot about what wave is doing. This meant that this was going to be a meeting full of people who would be viewing wave entirely as a tool to be used rather than say people who view it as "the shiny" and argue about the underlying tech implementation.
It was an interesting night. Lars and Stephanie turned up at the start of the meeting and to their credit they asked for and received constructive criticism on the Google Wave implementation (at least the front end which the users in the room were most familiar with). A lot of that discussion focused around the development of the GUI that GWave users are presented with. The most common complaint being that it was confusing and needed tidying up.
What the meeting did show, was that there were people who got the idea of wave in the business community. Not just as a way of making money or selling services, but as truly collaborative tool. For instance we had one gentleman who was working with a major international sporting event with competitors from all over the world, who was thinking of using wave to help project manage the event. There was also another gentleman who wanted to see how well wave would work as a medical collaboration environment in third world countries and areas like Africa.
People are thinking hard and are getting the idea, and even better they're starting to feel enabled by the tech to work on those ideas. What is needed however is further business person level instruction in how to use wave. No offence to the guys at Google, but during parts of the talk on the guts of wave, I could see some of the business people starting to zone out a little once we hit the buzzword event horizon. Something a bit more targeted at the average business operator would go along way to helping the uptake of wave as a tool rather than just a novelty.
Now I just want to make sure that we all understand that I'm not saying that business people are "dumb" or that the Google guys (Dan and Pamela - who both rawk by the way) deliberately aimed too high, rather I think it's a case of two worlds getting a little confused when talking to each other.
Overall I had a great time, the discussion was interesting and wide ranging and I was able to talk to people who were coming at wave from the other side of the fence, which really helps put things into perspective. I'm just sorry I had to bail right after the meeting, but a two hour train trip awaited.
Well done, Dan, Pamela, Brett and Frances