Last week, at Enterprise 2.0, as I made the rounds and rolled video tape, I bumped into Foldera founder and CEO Richard Lusk who explained to me that Foldera -- a hosted Groove-like collaborative solution -- was inspired by his own itch that needed scratching. Foldera isn't unlike another collaborative solution that we saw at the event -- OpenTeam's namesake wiki (the one that takes the icky out of wiki) -- in that the main organizational principle starts with a project or initiative and then, to begin collaborating, the security context is introduced whereby users are given access to a folder that represents that project or initiative. Then, any materials that are 'deposited' into that folder are (1) available to those users (and those users only) and (2) instantly available in a shared context.
In many ways, the overlap and differences between OpenTeams and Foldera illustrates one of the biggest challenges in solution acquisition and implementation. Because of its roots in wikis, OpenTeams is very Web 2.0-esque in that it's about collaborating on organizational knowledge through the so-called read/write-Web. As with all wikis, shared documents in OpenTeams are available for searching, viewing and editing through standard Web browsing. It's an example of how wikis can be used to eliminate a complicated layer of document creation software (eg: Microsoft Office) that, over the years, has been stretched through add-on technologies like Sharepoint and Groove to support more seamless collaboration.
But, whereas products like OpenTeams do a great job in getting people to embrace the wiki way of collaboration (yielding benefits in terms of simplicity to both users and the IT department), they're not very good at keeping track of the content associated with other collaborative applications like e-mail and calendaring (documents created with local applications like MS-Office can be attached to wiki pages and are searchable the same way wiki pages are). Meanwhile services like Foldera also offer a means for organizing collaboratively-oriented content but lack the direct content editing capability found in wikis like OpenTeams and SocialText. Thus, the conundrum. No one product does it all well (although Microsoft's Sharepoint is finally hip to the wiki way of doing things).
All this said, in addition to being a hosted solution (Groove takes a peer to peer approach), Foldera's claim to fame (at least from what I can tell) is that it anticipates the organizational context of the content you're working. The result is that it "pre-organizes" that content in advance of the next collaborative step instead of applying the organizational context after the step is complete. For example, if you've been e-mailing back and forth with a particular contractor over a particular project (and you have a Foldera folder assigned to that project), the e-mail automatically shows up in that folder (where others can see it) before you act on it. The alternative of course is to get the e-mail in your main inbox where you must act on it first, and then file it into a folder second. Foldera supports a variety of content types including e-mails, appointments, documents, etc. In the video above, Foldera's Lusk gives a pretty good taste of how it works.