The Turn of the Collaboration Tide

ChangeInTheAirHow we work is fundamentally changing, not just in engineering, but across all disciplines involving information management and collaboration. There’s an escalating revolution in enterprise software, where the grand unification dreams of the past are now being set aside. Spoiler alert: there really can’t be one system to rule them all. It’s not that we haven’t tried to forge the one system in the fires of Mount Doom. But in many cases we tried and failed. Instead of a single-vendor monolithic solution, there’s renewed emphasis on specialization within a larger heterogeneous mix of options. Tools in collaboration, communication, and analysis that aren’t bound to their masters like their monolithic precursors, but instead flourish in an alliance of interconnecting and distributed technology. And here we all stand, at the turn of the tide.

We’ve read the portents in the failures of enterprise social networks, a saga I’ve chronicled in the past in the Antisocial Enterprise series of articles. A fascinating interview conducted by Gloria Lombardi with Stowe Boyd of Gigaom Research cuts to the heart of the matter:

“GL: Are enterprises trying to build [Enterprise Social Networks] ESN adoption on a large-scale missing something?

SB: I think they will give up at some point. Companies are trying to use ESNs to encourage their people to have a voice. But, it doesn’t need to be on one social network.

The monolithic viewpoint is falling out of favour in times when people have to innovate and frequently change their practices to deal with an unpredictable world.

Enterprises should enable their staff to choose the tools they want to use: a wider collection of tools that people can select from to get their jobs done.”

But this phenomenon is not limited to just enterprise social networks, it’s touching all aspects of Enterprise IT, including one of the original tenets of Product Lifecycle Mangagement (PLM) and specifically Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and that’s our old and dear friend document collaboration. In Dropbox Harmony Will Knockdown PLM collaboration, Oleg Shilovitsky talked about how new wave collaboration tools like Dropbox Harmony present a new threat to traditional PLM approaches:

“PLM is not only about complex 3D models of aircraft and automobile. It is about zillions of other documents – requirements, bill of materials, spec sheets, visualizations, product presentations, etc. These documents are part of the everyday activities in manufacturing companies and engineering organizations. Today, Microsoft Office files and pdf documents are representing a majority of these documents […]CAD and PLM collaboration tool will see an additional competitive pressure coming from Dropbox tools. It is a time to think about unique CAD/PLM collaboration features to compete with Dropbox economy of scale.”

Dropbox Harmony is certainly a step in the right direction, but it just doesn’t go far enough. If you’ve been reading between the lines over the last year, you’ve probably seen subtle signs that something was in the forge. Maybe you pondered interesting thoughts during an explanation of why Google Won’t Save the Enterprise. Or perhaps wondered a bit when I decried It’s Time for Check In to Check Out.  That’s the cue where I step out of the shadows and reveal our secret weapon cobbled together from spare bits of Narsil.

It has a name and it’s called: RevVision.

RevVision is all about bringing real branching revision control to documents, without the hassle of traditional PDM/PLM approaches. It’s as transparent as Dropbox Harmony, but isn’t tied to Dropbox at all. Or any specific storage for that matter. You see RevVision is distributed such that it doesn’t matter where documents are stored. That means people can finally collaborate securely across storage services. And for the paranoid, who favor internal solutions over cloud connectivity – yeah you can wrap it so that it stays on-premise, or plays nice with your existing document repository. We’ll be talking about it more over on RevVision’s own blog right over here, starting out with a manifesto of sorts: The Declaration of Document Independence.

RevVision needs your interest and feedback as we move forward, go sign up over here now! We’re looking for individuals, small companies, or departments in larger companies for starters, come on over and check it out.