It's primetime for collaboration mashups

It's primetime for collaboration mashups

Summary: As winter draws in throughout the northern hemisphere, the silver lining of the recession we are descending into for the collaboration tools industry is the huge use case justifications for strapped companies of all sizes to take advantage of their products.In an era which is going to see some enterprises in suffering industry sectors fighting for survival, the inevitable mergers and acquisitions are also going to create migraine inducing legacy systems integration issues.

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As winter draws in throughout the northern hemisphere, the silver lining of the recession we are descending into for the collaboration tools industry is the huge use case justifications for strapped companies of all sizes to take advantage of their products.

In an era which is going to see some enterprises in suffering industry sectors fighting for survival, the inevitable mergers and acquisitions are also going to create migraine inducing legacy systems integration issues.

The challenges are steep: keeping legacy infrastructure running while striving for competitive innovation are two completely different problems. Merging multiple 'people' systems - intranets for example - is tough, unglamorous work.

Once you get into the various enterprise treasure troves of information -CMS's (content management systems) - the problems can seem insurmountable.

Companies which have rapid solutions to these problems are mana from heaven: MindTouch Deki are going from strength to strength in this area. They have some positive announcements coming up next week regarding their growth and user adoption, but this story in today's New York Times about billmelater.com is a succinct example of the power of centralizing around Mindtouch Deki in a medium sized company.

It's not hard to see why they have such momentum in the marketplace with their ability to reorganize content in ways that provide contextual links that make sense to users, helping knowledge workers get their hands on the information they need to be more efficient.

Whether a company is growing or shrinking, the reality is that often the people who originally put documents in CMS silos aren't in the same division or job anymore.

Getting the information 'blood' circulating through the infrastructure 'veins' is the sign of a healthy company, and Mindtouch did a good job last year of building corporate adoption by demonstrating the power of their utility.

It's not a stretch to see that the 'aerobic fitness' of free information flow though a company to its employees, partners and in some case customers makes them stronger and a healthier place to be. (Ever worked somewhere managerially opaque and secretive and tried to build momentum?)

Wikis can open up a whole new can of worms in fragmenting content into a wild west of unregulated, disorganized content without careful thought about patterns and organization; MindTouch at least has the advantage of being intuitive and unintimidating to non technical users which can make this problem appear less challenging and drive adoption.

Using MindTouch as a central publishing and collaboration platform for all unstructured content within an enterprise can definitely create organizational issues (like any wiki usage), but nevertheless is a very attractive and rapid solution with surmountable odds to success compared to much longer term and questionable legacy integration heavy lifting.

We are entering a game changing era with applications such as MindTouch, which provides technology bridges to other applications and systems. With a basic wiki based collaboration offering, or scaling up to their social enterprise collaboration platform offerings, it is possible to evolve collaboration tactics quickly. Atlassian's Confluence has unparalleled connectivity and is another great solution in the wiki space. Jive's ClearSpace is a terrific project hub, as is SocialText.

SalesForce.com have made it possible to rapidly get up and running with sophisticated enterprise software on a per seat license software as a service model. Intuit are picking up momentum with their QuickBase product and rapidly expanding developer community catering to small and medium sized business (I'm judging a developer competition for QuickBase apps this week: more on this soon.)

While legacy applications, with their deep licensing commitments, are not going to go away, this is prime time for fleet footed enterprise 2.0 companies who can address urgent needs quickly and efficiently.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that they will probably be saving a lot of companies who understand strategically how valuable this is - and who can successfully tactically implement and drive usage - from going under in the coming months.

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Software

About

Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

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2 comments
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  • collaboration internally, what about external?

    Thanks for a very interesting article. As our company is using some of the software that you listed, I can only feel good about it... But I would like to add a remark. Your article mentions quite exclusively collaborative work inside a company or organisation. However, I believe that there is a field of collaborative software (web 2.0 and/or SaaS) dedicated to collaborative work outside the organisation's virtual walls. The QuickBase and Confluence have their equivalent in making business partners work together.
    Alphast
  • RE: It's primetime for collaboration mashups

    What a perfect example of finding the recipe for opportunity amidst chaos! It's really the perfect storm for enterprise 2.0 companies provided sales people leverage the value that they can create for their prospects, and at the same time this value could prove to be a 'blood' transfusion (to steal your metaphor) for a great many companies at a very critical time.
    Zebra Chad