SAP, Salesforce.com make apps with Google Wave

Enterprise vendors are already kicking the tires on the collaboration and communication suite

Google's Wave communication and collaboration platform is getting early interest from enterprise application vendors like Salesforce.com and SAP.

Both companies have built prototype applications using Wave, which was released in preview mode for about 100,000 users on Wednesday after being available only to developers. Wave combines a range of technologies such as document sharing and instant messaging into a system for real-time collaboration.

SAP Research and the vendor's NetWeaver development team created an application called Gravity using Wave. In a demonstration video, Gravity is used to develop process models for a hypothetical merger between an insurance company and a bank. Once completed, the process models are exported into SAP's BPM (business process modeling) software for further refinement.

Meanwhile, Salesforce.com created an extension that employs Wave for customer service. A demonstration video shows how a customer in need of support can use Wave to start a dialogue with an automated support robot. The system also creates a case record in Salesforce.com. If the robot can't answer the user's questions, the user can request a live representative, who joins the conversation.

Google is mulling the prospect of a "monetizable wave extension store," according to an official blog post, through which these applications and others could conceivably be sold.

But while Wave is an intriguing technology, at this point it doesn't quite meet the needs of enterprises, according to Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady.

"For both ISVs and enterprises, the usability will have to be improved," he said. "It's still an intimidatingly new technology for less technical users, so Google would do well to work with potential partners to abstract needless complexity and exposing only the business functionality required."

Google acknowledged that Wave remains a work in progress in an official blog post this week, saying it "isn't quite ready for prime time" and noting that key features, such as a draft mode, remain to be implemented.

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