If you were an executive in a large company in the 1980s, the following items might have occupied the desk in your office: a telephone, desk calendar, appointment book, Rolodex or address book, and possibly an answering machine. In those days, these tools were all necessary to be productive on the job from day to day. Unfortunately, there wasn't a quick way to know when your colleagues were free for a meeting or to make sure they put a meeting on their calendars. Instead, the time-consuming tasks of organizing meetings and sending out memos were often delegated to assistants.
If you're an executive in the same company today, all those tools might be replaced with a single networked computer running software to handle the same tasks. As office tools went digital, memos became e-mails and you could access your contacts from your calendar when scheduling a meeting. A new category of software was born from this mashup of office tools and networked computers: collaboration software. Some big names in collaboration software have been Lotus Notes and Microsoft SharePoint.
Collaboration software goes beyond mashup status with features that couldn't have existed without the ability to cross-connect. For example, employees in a business using collaboration software can easily share contact and calendar information with each other. Then, within a couple of minutes, an employee could select people from the contact list, find out when those people are available based on their personal calendars, select a time that works for everyone, see what meeting rooms are available at that time, book the meeting room and send out invitation e-mails. When invitees receive their invitations by e-mail, they can click a button to accept or reject, and the meeting will instantly appear on their respective calendars.
Collaboration software is even more powerful when it's portable. The next technology mashup is leading the way in that portability.