Software for the enterprise

Software for the enterprise

Summary: The enterprise section of the day.... Including my product!

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TOPICS: Browser
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We move to the enterprise software segment of the morning.

System One, is an online collaborative notebook built in wiki. The service is an aggregation point, with RSS feeds for various contributors or sources that can be dragged into the environment, which as a "semantic-based information framework," that includes security and collaboration features. What's the big picture? It's a network approach--the "knowledge economy... needs a new platform."

ThinkFree AJAX Edition, a wiki-based office suite. Nicely executed. "In order for the online office to transition to the real world, the compatibility issue must be addressed," says TJ Kang, the CEO.

BuzzLogicDEMO.jpgThe application space is hosted with a free 1 GB storage space for each user. All work is done in the browse, and they show a Powerpoint-like composition interface using a set of slides created in Powerpoint. "ThinkFree is the only online suite that provides seamless round-trip compatibility with Microsoft Office." A workspace management panel gives a view of collaboration histories and search capabilities with the ability to generate feeds based on different contributors and projects.

Announces that the Los Angeles Public Library is deploying to 3,000 customers.

Up next, Genius Interactive Edition, a system that lets inside sales people see the clickpaths of customers as they visit a corporate site, then make direct connections throuhg chat to the visitor through email with a chat link. Sets up a window that shows the salesperson their visitors, kind of creepy in terms of privacy, suggesting that you will be watched carefully, like when you shop in a boutique with a hovering salesperson who may not leave you alone. The Genius system adds tracking code to any URL and enables chat in any page, including personalized contacts embedded on the page--so you can invite someone to chat by name while they are on your site. Remember when American Express started answering customer calls with the cardmembers' name? It freaked people out and, because of privacy concerns, they had to stop. This is a tool that will have to be used gracefully and sparingly.

They show an email that opens a chat between a salesperson and a lead. This is done by generating a link to the company site with the chat invite embedded on the page. They chat, and the salesguy has a record of what the visitor has looked at, including a "Tivo for a Web visit" to review the customer's interests.  

We're couple demoes away from BuzzLogic and I am nervous as hell, but strangely relaxed.

Next up, Koral, a wiki-based content management system. This is a business app, the question is "What about the frustration of looking on a drive to find a file that you know exists somewhere, if you could find it. Koral is a smarter and easier-to-use content management system for business users." "Totally free" for basic usage, the company hopes to hook users on the system, hosting the content they create, so that the company adopts the paid premium system. This will be a barrier to sampling, because corporate files aren't going to be comfortable on a "free" third-party server. Sales challenge--they need to get inside the enterprise to get trials rather than starting with a free public trial.

Nice interface, customizable by dragging, tagging and organization with previews online. The system supports RSS creation for individual files and projects. They say the system is adaptive, learning your preferences. Includes a rating system that can be used to share comments across offices. Shows when you have an outdated document on your desktop, even if you have not subscribed to the file -- there is a pop-up on the desktop to alert that an updated version of text is available.

They seem to be generating tags out of text in documents. Say they solve ease of use, fast to use, and collaborate without requiring login. Security is a big question.

Who's next, another wiki! (Disclosure: I am on the board of advisors of Socialtext). Now, MindTouch Business Solutions, which offers an appliance that stores data from local volumes in a new Dekibox, a wiki smart appliance, which saves and "mashes up" data with external data, like Google Maps data, so, you can extract addresses and call an external XML service to format and deliver data to different users on different devices. They also show a way to "free files from Outlook," which involves extracting conversation threads from Outlook with attachments for saving in a single workspace. Interesting.

The Dekibox appliance is for the enterprise environmment, lives behind the firewall. Offsite back up (security?) and self-maintaining. At wiki.com they have 27,000 wikis running on this hardware. 

Now, Serebrum, an Ajaxified wiki environment but the main difference seems to me to be the Ajaxification of long-standing features such as drag-and-drop. The system uses tags to mark files for reuse, and can generate a metadocument by simply querying on several tags and outputting to PDF. They show this from a Blackberry, by sending a command to assemble a document, which is then created and stored on the server. The company has an National Science Foundation grant to study collaborative work for military applications.

BuzzLogicUI.jpgFinally, after two and a half years, my company launches.... BuzzLogic. Holding breath. Read Farber, Marc Orchant, Greg Narain, and Rafe Needleman for the report. 

UPDATE: Success. Except for a glitch I don't think anyone would notice if they hadn't poured over the application, all went quite well. For a glance at where our social mapping technology has gone, see the photo to the right. 

Topic: Browser

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4 comments
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  • Genius Interactive Edition

    We're glad you got the chance to see SalesGenius and Genius Interactive at Demo. I just wanted to clarify that SalesGenius tracking starts with the prospect opting to click on the link in a sales rep's e-mail. And, SalesGenius users can only deep track their company web sites (domains that match their e-mail addresses). So it really is analogous to a physical store, as you point out. The sales reps sees that you've "entered the store" and observes what you seem to be interested in. Then he/she tailors his/her opening remarks to match your interests, which is pretty much the definition of good customer service. If you don't want to chat or receive additional e-mails, you can opt-out. Based on real user feedback, it really does improve the experience of the web site.
    smersy
    • best practices

      I'm confident that in the hands of a skilled salesperson this is going to be helpful. The challenge is teaching people to apply the same grace to their interactions online that they do to physical encounters, such as in a store. Have you all looked at cataloging some of these ideas for people who want to learn this to use your tools?

      I haven't had time to drill into your site, so it may be a dumb question....
      Mitch Ratcliffe
      • re: Best Practices

        I agree that there is a challenge to training sales people to be sensitive to whether prospective customers welcome their assistance or really want to be left alone, and we've published a best practices article about our "observe & serve" philosophy (aka "The Nordstrom Way") here

        http://www.genius.com/support/bestPractices.html
        We're also going to be publishing more case studies of customers using SalesGenius successfully. Our goal with SalesGenius is to help reps indentify the people who are interested and focus on them, and not waste time pursuing (bothering) people who aren't interested. In addition to best practices on our web site, there are "safeguards" in the product -- that's why, for example, Genius Interactive only lets sales reps post greetings or invitations to chat. Far better to let the site visitor decide whether he/she wants to chat or not...
        davidrt
        • smart marketers still needed

          David -- Yes, the whole point is that tools only let smart marketers
          do their job with greater returns on their effort. But it is easy to
          overdo it, so I look forward to seeing lots of discussion about best
          practices along the way.
          Mitch Ratcliffe