Office2.0 version 1.5, Additional Insight from Day One

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The other day, I was reading Read/Write Web before heading up to Office 2.0 and Richard McManus posted some great questions to stimulate dialogue and create a forum for truly interesting market and technology analysis.

Does Office 2.0 represent a revolution, a paradigm shift? Or just incremental improvement on Microsoft Office?

What Office 2.0 apps and services best represent the paradigm shift of Office 2.0 to you?

Do you agree that Google’s web-based office apps are more evolutionary than revolutionary?

Should we be looking to big companies or startups for paradigm-busting apps?

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Alight, well let’s see if we can answer these during my assessment of the following panel, along with an overview of day one

I attended, One Day in the Life of an Office 2.0 WorkerModerator: Matt Marshall of VentureBeatPanelists: Eric Hoffert of ShareMethods, TJ Kang of ThinkFree, Tom Snyder iNetOffice, Sridhar Vembu of Zoho, Kevin Warnock of gOFFICE, David Young of Joyent

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Let’s see, a day in the life of an office 2.0 worker…aside from Yahoo and Skype, Solitaire, personal phone calls, and 20 smoke breaks….OK, just kidding, but not really ;)

We did walk through some pretty cool applications and mash ups, which highlighted just how day-to-day productivity can be streamlined for workgroups, SMBs and even across the enterprise.

Honestly, the conversation was a bit dry, almost awkward. And, the demos were definitely rushed, but still were interesting! Because of the fast pace however, it was difficult to capture the nuances of the various mahsups.

Yes indeed, the topic of the Office 2.0 was a distraction.

“Office 2.0 is a nice name, but is it useful?”
“Office 2.0, don’t we also have Lunch 2.0?”
“Office 2.0 seem more like a buzzword.”

Although the perspective and commentary that resonated with me was offered by a Google Docs product manager who said, “Office 2.0 doesn’t make it for her. It’s like saying the car is the horseless carriage 2.0. It’s all about collaboration.”

Over at Isabel Wang’s place, she also captured a couple of additional takes on Office 2.0.

Stowe Boyd writes that Office 2.0 is about connectedness and not productivity, and knowledge acquisition versus knowledge management.

Ismael himself defines Office 2.0 as online services.

Although, we’ve more than covered this discussion (see my interpretations of the various definitions here), I think it’s still important to keep the dialog going because Office 2.0 in my opinion represents gems from all of these concepts.

Office 2.0, like most things “2.0,” are simply trying to catapult and document a new movement and the version number really works in some cases. It won’t be office 2.0 forever, but it’s better than saying “next generation of paradigm shifting online productivity suites”…especially while the market is developing and unfolding.

So, in a nutshell, Office 2.0 is about:
Connecting online and offline workflow
Enhancing productivity
Leveraging social media
Encouraging trackable and manageable collaboration
Driving knowledge acquisition, distribution, and management
Integrating (or mashing-up) online applications to create new solutions that help employees stay connected and more capable/productive
Reducing dependency on email, fax, and conference calls
Creating new ways to work and opening the door for new deliverables

The exploration continues…

So on that note, let’s get back on track and talk a little bit about those who stood up to discuss there applications on Day One.

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Eric Hoffert of ShareMethods
ShareMethods was founded in 2003 to deliver high quality products powering collaboration and communications between sales and marketing. The founders come from a background of building software applications for Fortune 500 marketing organizations.

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

TJ Kang of ThinkFree
Like most of the speakers, ThinkFree develops office productivity solutions for platform independent computing. ThinkFree is a Microsoft Office compatible application suite comprised of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation graphics software-all usable online and off.

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Tom Snyder iNetOffice
iNetOffice designs and develops Internet-based document solutions. The company had issued a press release entitled, “iNetOffice and ShareMethods Join Forces to Create Online Office Mashup and Ajax Mashup Specification.”

The application mashup demo featured Salesforce.com, Google, Thumbstacks, iRows, ShareMethods, and iNetOffice to shows the power of composite applications, increased productivity, and open standards interoperability

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Sridhar Vembu of Zoho
ZOHO almost goes without saying, but still, they provide one of the biggest online rivals to the MS Office franchise – at least among the early adopter segment. During the show, the company announced its ZOHO Virtual Office which created a series of offline discussions. Products include, Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show, Projects, CRM, Creator, Planner, and Chat.

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Kevin Warnock of gOFFICE
gOFFICE is a free browser-based online office suite It allows customers to quickly create documents via a web browser – sound familiar? The customer types in their browser, chooses a letterhead design and receives a professionally formatted PDF file in moments. Customers do not require Adobe Acrobat, as the PDF files are created on the gOFFICE servers.

There’s more to gOFFICE than at first glance. Kevin did offer some of the more humorous sound bites from the presentation including, “I emailed Google and offered the gOFFICE URL, but I never heard back from them.” He also wasn’t sure how to maximize the potential for gOFFICE, so he stated, “I don’ know what to do with it. So, if you have any ideas, see me afterwards.”

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

David Young of Joyent
Joyent offers simple, powerful, Web-based software that provides small teams with email, calendars, contacts, and shared applications.It’s a fully hosted app, with nothing to install, configure, and there’s no need for computer staff or consultants (which I like!). The surprising part here is that hosted plans start at just $15/month.
At the show, Joyent also announced the Joyent assistant. For $450, customers have access to 10 hours of a real-life, business-savvy personal assistant.

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

Google also graced us with two product managers to highlight Google Docs and Spreadsheets. While it was a bit hurried, it was good to see the products in action.

Now back to those questions…

Does Office 2.0 represent a revolution, a paradigm shift? Or just incremental improvement on Microsoft Office?

It’s an evolution and it could represent a paradigm shift. But, let’s not be naive and assume that Microsoft won’t just release an extension of Live to wipe out any potential competition. In the meantime, however, the latest batch of online productivity applications are useful and worth consideration as a complement or replacement to MS Office. The most interesting developments will be in the future mashups and acquisitions to create uber suites.

What Office 2.0 apps and services best represent the paradigm shift of Office 2.0 to you?

Aside from the “givens,” including Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Zoho Virtual Office, to me the biggest opportunity for a paradigm shift have not yet been announced. between the leading O2O companies. Again, pay attention acquisitions and mashups.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I will not utilize many of the solutions available today. For example, I’ve already deployed SiteKreator, Approver.com, Yousendit, and we’re integrating FreshBooks next month. We’re also evaluating Joyent.

Do you agree that Google’s web-based office apps are more evolutionary than revolutionary?

Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets are more evolutionary only because they are hosted applications that benefit from social media, but they are by no means category killers, yet.

Truthfully, while most of the companies at Office 2.0 demonstrated compelling features and benefits, the real category definitions will emerge by the next Office 2.0 conference.

All in all Stowe Boyd had it right when he said, “Death to all Office 2.0 panels! I am enjoying the Office 2.0 conference, in general, but the stream of panel sessions is wearing me down.”

It needed a bit more direction, organization, and opportunities to demonstrate how any Office 2.0 company will be successful and how they can form alliances while also enlisting realworld users. Hats off to Ismael Ghalimi for pulling this first event together…and for capturing Office 2.0 as a viable market in of itself. Ismael, you did good!

Visual highlights from the show…

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1
Steve Gilmor and Vic Podcaster discussing PodcastWest

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1
Classic moment during a presentation highlighting Google integration

Images from:
Industry Standards for Office 2.0Moderator: Tantek CelikPanelists: Kaliya Hamlin,Ivaylo Lenkov, Narendra Rocherolle, Bob Sutor

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

10/11/06 Office 2.0 Day 1

As of now, the Office 2.0 conference and the blog at ITRedux are truly the only forum to consistently track the Office 2.0 industry state and direction, first hand.

For more Office 2.0 pictures, please visit flickr.
Welcome Party
Day One
Day Two

Also, jump over to Business Two Zero for solid commentary by David Terrar on Office2.0.

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  • David Terrar

    Hi Brian – Thanks for your kind words, and I’ve added a link to this page in my Office 2.0 resource page. Cheers!

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

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