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A few weeks ago, I was at SXSW (also known as Spring Break for Nerds) with three colleagues. We all had completely different schedules planned and completely different agendas, but had to come together once each day to film our daily episode of TechInterruption. If you’ve ever been to SXSW, you know that trying to attend panels and trying to meet up with people are mutually exclusive activities.

At the beginning of my stay in Austin, I was on the hunt for the hot breakout technology of 2011. But most of the hallway chatter was about transmedia (old news), the location-based services wars (which don’t actually exist) and gamification (which many folks were not high on).

The only redeeming “new tech” factor at SXSW this year was Group Messaging. Group Messaging essentially takes the online chartrooms of our AOL days and brings them to a streamlined mobile experience. Popular Group Messaging apps include GroupMe, Kik, Beluga and Fast Society, many of which integrate with SMS (which is just fancy talk for regular old texting).

The messages sent over these applications generally reach their destinations faster than texts. They also further indicate a shift to data plan-dependent mobile ecosystems. In other words, soon you’ll only need a mobile device (or table) and a data plan (with no voice or text plan from your wireless provider) to make calls over the web and to send text-based messages.

So my colleagues and I saved hours of texting and calling each other individually to coordinate meeting times by using Group Messaging technology. Collaboration 2.0 for the win. No, the technology is not sexy. It’s not ground-breaking. It’s old, proven and time-tested technology playing out in a new forum on mobile devices. What made it remarkable at SXSW and what will continue to make it remarkable moving forward is how people innovate by using the technology.

From a workplace perspective, Group Messaging will forever change remote collaboration on time-sensitive projects that require quick answers. Communities will use it to quickly connect people with local interests, thereby assisting serendipitous meet-ups. Students will use it in the classroom to provide backchannel commentary during lectures…and probably collaboratively cheat.

Group Messaging is here to stay in one form or another. As always, feel free to share thoughts and ideas.

Image VIA Andy Mihail