The Gig Is Up. Microsoft Sunsets GigJam

August 25 2017 01:43:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

I still remember the phone call. I was in Paris attending a Capgemini event when a Microsoft executive called me...
Microsoft: "We need you in Redmond within the next few days."
Me: "Well, I'm going to be at your Worldwide Partner Conference in a few weeks, can we talk then?"
Microsoft: "No, we need to show you something."
Me: "Can we do it via Skype?"
Microsoft: "No, you have to come here and see it."

That was the start of my journey with what came to be known as Microsoft GigJam. For those not familiar with GigJam, here is my initial report on it: Has Microsoft just redefined collaboration?

That journey came to a bit of a conclusion this week, as Microsoft announced "After careful consideration, we’ve decided to retire the GigJam Preview on September 22, 2017." - Ambient Computing Team


This is a very good decision. GigJam was an incredibly bold and powerful idea. It's rare that a software vendor takes a chance and completely redefines the way people do things. I applaud Microsoft for this, and wish more vendors would do this. The problem is, GigJam didn't have a metaphor that people could easily relate to. It was not file sharing, web conferencing, or social networking. It was a new way to divvy up small chunks of work. The problem of "what is it" is very reminiscent to the early day struggles we had with Lotus Notes. I can't tell you how much time we spent just trying to explain to customers what it was.

While Microsoft is shutting down GigJam as a stand-alone application, I'm confident that many of its concepts will live on in future versions of the core Office 365 apps. Features like sharing just small bits of data (versus an entire document or application), using natural language input (Cortana) to create views, crossing out confidential information to redact it, and linking together objects for filtering are all extremely useful. However, these features are better off inside existing applications, people don't need another tool. If you want to share a few cells of a spreadsheet, you should easily be able to do that from within Excel. If you want to link an mail to a Dynamics CRM record, you should do that right inside Outlook. Etcetera. 

I believe Microsoft's primary focus going forward will be on enhancing Microsoft Teams. Teams aggregates together functionality from across various apps in Office 365. This goes well beyond the standard Word-PowerPoint-Excel trio to include apps like OneNote, Planner, Flow, PowerApps and more. This robust portfolio enables Teams to be the perfect place to add some of the GigJam concepts into. Stay tuned, with Microsoft Ignite coming up in just a few weeks, Microsoft may have some surprises for you in the personal productivity and team collaboration space.

Rest well GigJam, you were a good soul.