Written by David R Jennings   
Sunday, 17 June 2007

Less than a year ago Google absorbed a company that may reveal a lot about their long-term strategies.

A Google corporate acquisition usually transforms a company into a free open source tool for everyone, and the change can occur practically overnight. But the acquisition of Jotspot has gone a little differently.

Jotspot is, or was I should say, a collaboration tool built as an easy to use Wiki . A user could setup a Jotspot account, create a collaboration Wiki, add calendars, files, schedules, and work in a team environment with anyone added to the project. It even grew to include photo galleries, and web-based spreadsheets.

When Google acquired Jotspot it was immediately closed to new registrations and the Jotspot pages went dark to everyone but existing paying customers. This strategy wasn't in itself very telling, but now months later I believe the continued absence of Jotspot means that Google is making some significant updates. This long delay probably means the changes are flowing both ways between the two corporate structures, especially considering the language used on the Jotspot FAQ page.
"Google shares JotSpot's vision for helping people collaborate, share and work together online. JotSpot's team and technology are a strong fit with existing Google products like Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Apps for Your Domain and Google Groups."
I believe we can look to a revamped Jotspot to emerge very soon. The new tool set will likely continue where Jotspot left off last year but have grown to include a whole new set of business and office tools. Jotspot was getting very close to creating an online office environment went it went dark so you can bet it is not going to let that just drop.

A new Google/Jotspot might look like an online corporate headquarters for your company. Imagine being able to login every morning from home or office and see everyone on your staff that has already checked-in, then be able to instantly share schedules, documents, spreadsheets, inter-office communications, and even have meetings, personal chats and white-board sessions through a single framework. This type of collaboration is not only possible but likely. If you take a few extra steps to include VoIP and video chat the need to get in the Hummer/SUV/Earth Destroyer and drive to work is gone.
Once enough companies take this tack corporate life will become very different. Meetings and presentations would happen virtually, travel would be reduced, and working from a home office would become the norm rather than the exception.
Let me add another "specu-Google-ation" to this forecast. I believe you can look for Google to go shopping for a company like Linden Lab in the very near future. Adding the functionality of a virtual world like Second Life to a Google/Jotspot tool set would be extremely powerful . Virtual worlds are no longer just meet-up joints for teenagers. You're just as likely to bump into a PHD, Architect, or Corporate CEO in Second Life as you are a teenager. Increasingly, large corporate entities are setting up virtual offices in these virtual environments and using them for everything from recruitment to online conferences.

Some of the more influential virtual environment players now include IBM, CNN, C/Net, Reuters, and a hundred or so other corporate juggernauts. Give these guys some business tools from Google/Jotspot in the virtual world and the corporate playing field will become very different, very soon.

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