September 20th, 2011 | Published in Google OpenSocial
Now that the final version of the OpenSocial 2.0 spec has been announced, we at Wrike, as one of the companies leading the charge on social collaboration, are excited about seeing more enterprises lean into this type of integration. In fact, we’ve just developed our own OS 2.0 widget, which will help transform email functionality within Wrike’s collaboration tools. But before we tell you more about that, here’s why OpenSocial has our collaborative juices flowing.
Open season for innovation
It’s a safe bet that the typical iPhone user is used to working with direct access to multiple apps that can help him work and play more effectively. iPhone Marketplace was a bigger source of innovation for users than the phone hardware itself. Many enterprise solutions miss that open ecosystem opportunity today. For example, Outlook has millions of users spending their whole working days in front of it, who would love the same type of easy access to useful apps that would enhance their workflow. Yet, how many of those users installed Outlook plug-ins? OpenSocial 2.0 has the potential to open up innovation for enterprise software, bringing the right apps with the right integrations in a safe package, directly in front of users who want to benefit from them.
Bridging gaps between the apps
The improved safety, compatibility and connectivity that the OpenSocial standard offers, makes it a lot easier to build bridges between useful enterprise apps. Bridges that go beyond simple data integrations into the land of fully integrated user experiences. Taking my own company, Wrike, as just one example, we’re based on the belief that project management tools should be inherently social, and this is a fundamental part of our value proposition to companies around the world. So, it’s easy to see why OpenSocial has us excited about ways we can keep improving our users’ experience and their productivity, by plugging into the networks and tools they are already comfortable using.
Potential to turn email into a structured, real-time platform
A couple of days ago, Wrike’s widget appeared in the OpenSocial 2.0 sandbox with examples of embedded experiences in the activity stream, emailbox and a compact dashboard. I’d like to focus a bit more on the email component of the widget and share why we see great potential in it.
Email software has effectively been on “lock-down” since its inception. When you receive dozens of emails on a daily basis, it gets really challenging to turn that type of inbox chaos into the cohesive big picture of your projects and goals. From the start, a key pillar of Wrike’s product vision has always been to open up that software and bring emails into a centralized system, turning long email discussion threads into neat plans. This is why Wrike created its email integration, which allows users to create, assign, schedule and discuss tasks right from their inboxes.
Today, people use email even more than when Wrike was conceived. So, instead of try to push email out of the office toolkit “nest” (which seems like a hard and unproductive thing to do), we wanted to leverage the good things about it. OpenSocial 2.0 gives us new opportunities to implement our exciting idea – to turn 40-year email functionality into a structured, well-organized, real-time platform that supports sharing, discussions and other actions you need for collaboration. Wrike’s widget brings emails to life and integrates them fully into the project management process. Users don’t even need to change anything in their working habits.
In parallel with developing our widget for OpenSocial 2.0, we’ve been working on Wrike’s new add-on for Outlook. For the end user, the experience will be very similar to what they get with our OS widget. However, if we look at it from the development side of things, building this add-on atop Outlook is a more laborious and complicated process, a whole other world. That’s where we see the big difference between open platforms and closed systems – in how easily can you plug into them.
With the potential that OpenSocial 2.0 offers and the ease that you can build widgets on top of it, I believe that the world will quickly become attuned to getting this kind of experience for many more email clients. People still strongly rely on email in their work and they just need a way to naturally bring those messages into their collaboration process. So, it turns out that email isn’t dead as some claim, it just needed a rebirth, And OpenSocial 2.0 is an essential part of that evolution.
The new generation of apps, built on the open platform, will bring a new wave of innovation and productivity. OpenSocial has already gained support from many players in the enterprise software market. I’m sure we can expect new marketplaces and ecosystems, and faster innovation as others follow suit.
Users will of course be the ones to benefit, but it’s a win-win for everyone, as we continually find new ways to improve the way that we work. Your company’s mission should they choose to accept it? To socialize the enterprise.