Cool and not-so-cool from Office 2.0

by David Spark on September 4, 2008

Here’s a summary of the “cool” and “not-so-cool” I saw at Office 2.0 today. I’m going to continually update this post throughout the day.

Not-so-cool – Google demoing old products at Office 2.0 – Google’s new browser, Chrome came out this week, and the presenter only spent two minutes on it. Went on and on about old products, but…

Cool – …Google’s old products are still cool – While many of the products shown were old, Google is publicly leading the charge to Office 2.0 and their suite of old products prove this point.

Google Talk’s translation feature – Pretty impressive tool that allows two people to have a conversation in their native tongue and it automatically translates. For years I’ve seen chat programs like this, but I didn’t know anyone who actually used it. Matt Glotzbach of Google claims he communicates with a colleague in China (him in English, colleague in Chinese) this way. Will probably get better over time as the translation tool allows you to suggest better translations if the one offered isn’t so good. Glotzbach suggests that this feature could appear in other applications like in Google Docs, Gmail, or any other form of communication.

Creating a Web form through Google Spreadsheets – This has been around for a while, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it and I’m impressed. The data that gets filled in the Web form automatically populates the spreadsheet. Everyone in the room was so impressed that they started filling out the form Glotzbach put up on his blog. As the audience filled it out we started seeing the results appearing in the spreadsheet.

Google Docs Templates – Seems obvious. They’re available for docs, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Cool – GE SupportCentral – Dr. Sukh Grewal led a presentation on this case study on the eight years so far to create GE’s SupportCentral which has been the development of community needs to generate and deliver processes. The elements that make up SupportCentral are individuals, communities, knowledge and processes. Here’s what Grewal learned from the creation of SupportCentral:

  • A process is how organizations generate value.
  • When you can execute and replicate, that’s when you have value.
  • Knowledge and people in an enterprise exist in the context of work processes.
  • GE needed processes and communications to all be digitized and exist in communities so that they can be seen and changed rapidly.
  • People manage their communities if it helps their job. People look at documents that others upload to the community.
  • A network of knowledge can begin by asking questions. You find the experts and the network, which you can track, begins.
  • They can digitize a process faster than you can document it.
  • No coding. All information can be created and discovered by clicking.
  • Development process is agile and iterative
  • Usage gained the hard way – by convincing thousands of people that this was a better way to work

The end result is GE has digitized thousands of business processes.

Cool and not-so-cool – Office 2.0 trying to go paperless – It’s a noble effort, and they’ve got lots of ideas, but it’s debatable how much of is sticking. But I give them kudos trying to push everyone to use new tools. But I swear, things would be a lot easier if I had a printout of the schedule or there was a sign in the hallway to tell me what session is happening where.

Not-so-cool – No Office 2.0 application with full Outlook integration – I am LOCKED into Outlook. I’d love to get out, but I’ve got tons of valuable information locked into my contacts in my Outlook database. Especially with Business Contact Manager which manages contacts differently and stores a lot more information, like my entire email history of conversations, even for emails that I delete. There are tons of CRM SaaS tools out there, but none can pull in all that information from my Outlook, and as a result they will never get me as a customer. Note to all Office 2.0 developers. Create a tool that will pull ALL of my Outlook data, and you’ll get me as a customer.

Limited cool, soon to be very cool – Sliderocket – Presentation program that lets you collaborate on the development, share, and present. What will make them very cool though is an integration with media properties like stock photo libraries so you can manage the creation of the presentation all within the Web application, instead of having to jump outside all the time.

Limited cool – Empressr – It’s supposed to be a presentation program like SlideShare, but right now it’s best use is to present slide shows of pictures, and it’s one of the versatile and easiest ones I’ve seen.

Cool, but could be more cool – Egnyte – Simply a virtual server for SMBs to collaborate. Integrates with the desktop so virtual server looks like a drive on the desktop. I argued that they should be more because when you set up a group and a user goes to the front page all they see is a list of folders. Not a very welcoming greeting. There’s so much they could do by creating a front end that can be managed by the group. The rep argued that they had a way to communicate by sending alerts to people’s inboxes when one of their documents changes. The other guy listening to the pitch also didn’t agree with me, he said all they need to be is a virtual server. I argue that if you’re capturing an audience, you need to greet them with something more than a list of file folders. It was my first reaction after seeing the program in action.

Cool – YuuGuu – How the hell is WebEx still in business? Every time I go to some type of Web 2.0 conference I see yet another cheap-to-free online meeting tool. YuuGuu is one of those. Really easy program to use that allows for chat and sharing of desktop with up to 30 users for FREE. You need to download and install an application, BUT say someone doesn’t want to do that, they can still get complete functionality. The person who initiates sends a Web link and the person just logs on with a code.

Not-so-cool – Not letting everyone on the panel speak – I’m tired of going to presentations where one person dominates the conversation. If I were blind I wouldn’t know there were four people on the panel. I would think it’s a one-on-one interview. If you’re the moderator and this happens, you need to shut up the loudmouth and let others speak. There are ways to handle this. Just cut them off at the end of a sentence with “Excellent point!” and just ask someone else what they think. I’m very passionate about running panels that benefit the audience. Read my article, “More Schmooze, Less Snooze: How to Deliver ‘The Most Talked About’ Conference Session.”

Cool – EchoSign – Web application for getting contracts signed quickly. Get them signed digitally, or via fax. I am going to be their next customer. For me, the delay on getting contracts signed is extremely irritating. The conference producer used them to sign contracts with all the sponsors and he said on average all contracts were signed within three hours of receipt. That sold me.

Cool – Real world collaboration requires people, processes, technology and SCALING – Oliver Marks, enterprise collaboration consultant who I interviewed for the Be the Voice podcast, led a discussion on how to get people working together closely which can be very powerful for an organization. The three elements of a real world implementation people, process, and technology. There’s a fourth element, scaling, that many don’t consider because they often think, “Oh, if this tool worked in our test with this small group, then we’ll just roll it out ‘as is’ to the enterprise.” But it doesn’t work that way. Scaling is a very critical issue that most need to think about.

Videos from Office 2.0 conference

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