Brightside Software recently launched Nuospace, an on-demand collaboration tool that claims to overcome the adoption problem by making the UI really simple. When I tried it, my initial reaction was one of alarm. When you first fire up the service there is almost nothing to see yet click around and it comes to life.
Although the service is pitched as a wiki, there is more under the covers. It has basic blog capability, document management/storage and forums. This is a nice combination of tools that is easy on the eye, once you get used to the minimalist look and feel. There is an internal messaging system that sends email to those you choose to include for specific tasks like document sharing, which you can make confidential. This invite facility is available system wide or you can make it document specific - good if you're working on something confidential.
Right now there is no RSS which I believe is a glaring omission but then if there are going to be confidential areas of the site then Brightside needs to figure out how it adapts its current security model to accommodate both open and closed areas of the site. Speaking of security, Brightside has done a very good job of ensuring this service is 'enterprise ready' out of the box.
There's a few 'gotchas' as you'd expect of a service that won't go into full service until June. For instance on Mac, it only works on Safari. Given Firefox's market share, that needs fixing. In some views, the sidebar navigation goes out of focus and despite saying it offers PDF export, that won't be available until the commercial version is released. As far as I can tell, there is no multimedia capability such that I can attach say video or podcast files to blog or wiki pages. Finally, the linking mechanism in the page edits seems borked which right now would be a deal breaker for me.
I caught up with Dimitri Lisitski, CEO and co-founder of BrightSide to ask how the service is positioned and about future plans. "We're thinking this will work well for businesses that have 20 to 2,000 people and especially those that have a history of using Office products and don't want to be on a long learning curve." On pricing, the service is free up to the first 200MB of storage and then you pay. "The precise plan has yet to be finalized but will be highly competitive," he added.
I like the idea of Nuospace and I like it is appealing to those who don't want to go through the learning curve of something like a SocialText or the more indirect competitors like Zoho. However, strong usability on its own is not enough and Nuospace will have to find a way of quickly reaching the mass market so that it gains enough traction to become clearly visible.