Google Wave

J0178596 As the pharmaceutical industry struggles to find its foothold in social media and regulated by an agency that does not have the appearance of understanding how the Internet is used by patients seeking healthcare information, there is about to be a new revolution in communications.  It is called Google Wave.  

Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia – all have presented new learnings and have introduced new efficiencies into the workplace.  Some companies have set up internal Twitter-like applications, others are using RSS to communicate swiftly and efficiently with select groups of employees.  Social media like Facebook which began as a means for friends to communicate with one another have all been embraced to heighten brand awareness and involvement in a new frontier of "shared media" that has now become an essential component of any competent communications strategy.

One of the key characteristics of shared media is that it is quickly coalescing and integrating and that, I think, is what Web 3.0 will look like.  Sometime this year, Google is going to bring that future to reality with the release of Google Wave.

Google Wave is not a gimmick and is not esoteric.  Email, which was invented nearly 40 years ago, is linear and has not changed much over time.  In a relatively short period of time, Google Wave be to email what email was to the fax machine.  

What is it and why am I saying this?  Unlike email, Google Wave is a conversation, but it is a directed conversation.  When you have Google Wave, you will have on your screen a sort of in-box that will tell you what Waves you are involved in.  If I want to talk to someone, I open up a Wave and invite them into it.  I can do that by clicking and dragging an icon of theirs into my Wave.  If they are at their computer, they will see that the Wave has begun.  If they are not, they will get a notice that they have been included in the Wave.  When they open it up, they can respond directly to each question I pose – and answer them separately.  

So let's say I am starting a new presentation and I want to get a colleagues opinion.  I begin a Wave and invite him into it.  I ask him 5 questions.  He opens the Wave and while I'm open on the Wave, types a boxed answer to each of the questions.  One of them is asking him to provide some templates – he clicks and drags three templates and puts them into the Wave for my consideration.  I want the opinion of two colleagues so I invite them into the Wave so they can see the templates.  The two colleagues can weigh in by writing their opinions which I will be able to see as they type them, much like in instant messages, except that I will see each keystroke as they type it, not have to wait and get that annoying little message telling me that they are typing.  There are now four of us in the wave and we've all been writing.  The next day, I begin writing the presentation and ask two additional colleagues to respond to what I've written.  There is now a lot of writing in the Wave, so to make sure they understand the evolution of the conversation, they can "playback" the Wave to chronologically view who said what, when.  They provide edits which are tracked for me when I next look at the Wave and I can see who made what changes.  The next day, I have a new draft of the presentation to show and I can get their feedback in real time and, if I want, have some offline conversations with one or two of them within the Wave that are private and unseen by other colleagues…  

That is just a little of the way it will work.  No more waiting for email answers, no need to schedule meetings necessarily, but the opportunity to develop collaborative projects in real time using familiar tools that are all completely integrated using less resources and person power in much more tightly compressed timeframes.  It is nothing short of breathtaking.    

It stands to change even the products that one offers.  For example, I now often attend FDA Advisory Committee meetings and write reports for clients.  In the future, I will offer to bring clients into a Wave and report to them in real time from the FDA advisory committee meeting as the day progresses.  Where I wrote a report for a single client, I will now offer several clients the opportunity to have me report on the proceedings, with tailored messages aimed at specific people within the Wave.  Why Tweet from a venue when I can wave with much more clarity and even speed?  

Anyone involved in communications that isn't thinking about how to apply Google Wave to their own businesses and to communicate with key stakeholder audiences should start now.  The pharmaceutical industry, already so late to the game in social media, should not be as reticent and timid about Wave.  

Wave is aptly named.  It is a tidal Wave that will wash through communications and office functionality and with it, wash away many of the tools we take for granted today – to which you will be Waving goodbye.  

There isn't a lot out there on Google Wave yet.  But if you are curious, and you should be, you can invest some time in watching Google's rather long YouTube video about Wave – and then get to the drawing board to think about the many, many adaptations this tool will have on the workplace and in the marketplace.  
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