From Ray Ozzie's interview yesterday with Microsoft PressPass re: the Groove acquisition, I've excerpted my favorite parts below. The emphases are mine.
PressPass: Why is collaboration becoming so important in today's business world?
Ozzie: The nature of work is fundamentally changing for today's information workers. We've moved from an era of personal productivity to one of joint productivity. From tightly coupled systems and organizations, to loosely-coupled interconnections between people, business processes and work groups. Increasingly, the "office" is defined as wherever you and your laptop happen to be -- a customer's conference room, an airplane, a hotel room, a coffee shop or a home office. And more often than not, the "team" now comprises partners, customers, contractors and others who don't share a common network or IT infrastructure. As a result, most of this cross-organization work currently occurs in e-mail because -- next to the telephone -- it's the easiest way for these people to connect. The ad-hoc, decentralized and meshed design of e-mail is fundamental to its success. But information workers and IT alike want new ways for teams to work to work together dynamically on tasks without limitations on attachments, endless forwarded threads or the possibility of network snooping of confidential messages.
PressPass: Ray, what is your perspective on the debate over centralized versus decentralized computing models? Is there a place for both?
Ozzie: Centralized and decentralized approaches are equally necessary. We've learned over the past three decades, from trying out variations of both models, that some problems are best solved centrally while others are best addressed locally. Large organizations have needs at the center, while people and business units have needs at the edge. The decentralized model is becoming increasingly necessary because -- to put it simply -- the days of deskbound office work are over for many of us. Millions of people now tote around WiFi-enabled laptops and other mobile computing devices that allow us to work just about anywhere - from the home office, in meetings, on the airplane or in the airport lounge, in hotel rooms and the corner coffee shop. However, our highly mobile and occasionally disconnected work styles don't always jibe with today's extensively firewalled networks and intranet-based applications. Also, effective work groups in today's business environments need tools that support the dynamics of how their teams take shape and evolve. Smart organizations must embrace both the centralized and decentralized models to some extent, rather than becoming polarized on the issue.