This summer's hit movie for communicators won't be showing in theaters, on TiVo, or even Blu-ray. It's an online event showing the rollout of “Google Wave.”
What is Google Wave? We predict that the Wave will be to the Web browser what the iPhone was to smartphones – nothing less than the transformation of a communications tool, with all that it means for professionals like us and for our audience-hungry clients.
Google claims Wave is “what e-mail would look like if it were invented today.” But, it is much more than that. This is what e-mail, instant messaging, document collaboration, and a host of other communication tools and services would look like if they were invented today and rolled into one application.
A “wave” is like an e-mail or instant messaging thread. But waves are living, breathing things that can be edited in real time. So, a wave is also a document collaboration tool. (Google refers to it as a “personal communication and collaboration tool.”) Because it is browser-based, it will be used across devices from laptops to smartphones.
Beyond the product, Wave aims to revolutionize communications. As developers work with the open-source code and programming interface, nearly all of us will end up being touched by it. Wave will transform social networks and communities. But, it is not a Twitter or Facebook killer. Rather, networks, blogs, and online communities will use the open-source Wave platform to extend their own capabilities.
For those of us involved in communications and marketing, Wave will upend everything we are doing and create new modes of engaging our clients' audiences.
For example, Google Wave should revolutionize patient care. Doctors, specialists, and patients will be able to communicate freely with each other, and in real time when needed. MRIs or test results can be added to a wave enabling doctors and specialists to easily collaborate on treatment options. Because Wave communications are stored on centralized servers, a wave can be secured which will be critical for healthcare applications.
Wave will touch every industry in which meaningful dialogue between organizations and customers is important. It will change education forever by facilitating true collaborative learning online. It will transform fundraising, social media marketing, crisis communications, and campaigns. Wave will revolutionize sales as customers and sales people will effortlessly communicate about needs and solutions. And you can rest assured that Google will monetize Wave through search and advertising.
Microsoft's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, has branded Wave "anti-Web," because he believes it is too complex. But Wave is a classic product of our times—impossible to adequately describe in words, yet intuitive and simple to use. Watch the video. Prepare to be amazed. And get ready for the next wave in communications.
Huard Smith is EVP of Virilion.