Microsoft is right: we need new ways to work, but is Gigjam the answer?

Microsoft has demoed a new technology, called Gigjam, an effort to change the way we think about getting work done in an increasingly mobile and connected world. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft demoed the new technology, which is a real departure from the Windows-era notion of productivity, and represents a post-Office approach based on modern computing protocols and moving away from file-centric sharing of information.

As Darryl Rubin (technical lead on the project), Vijay Mital (Microsoft’s general manager of ambient computing and robotics), and the Ambient Computing Team said on their blog,

GigJam is designed for the emerging workforce that is more connected, more available and more social than ever before. With GigJam, a business can expect a dramatic transformation of every process where humans have the potential to exercise discretion and work with others, colleagues as well as customers.

Gigjam is a suite of capabilities that allow users to summon information buried in apps — email, calendar, enterprise app databases — format that information as cards, then annotate the cards, and share them with others. The annotation also includes redacting elements of the cards, adding audio, and drawing on them. And the initial interaction can be managed through Cortana voice assistant. Then these cards are sharable through capabilities that seem like a new take on screen sharing, with integrated voice. You really need to watch the video from the blog post to get a sense of the style of interaction. Words fail, trust me.

This is a very different vision of collaboration than we might expect from the folks who are pushing Office 365, Sharepoint, and Yammer, but Microsoft is now willing to experiment, and to even compete internally.

We’ll have to see if Gigjam is the answer to finding a new way to work, but it’s a clean break out of the world that spins on siloed data buried in enterprise repositories, Word docs as file attachments, or even Web 2.0 era social collaboration tools.

Microsoft said Gigjam will be released later in the year, and no pricing is yet available.