Friday, April 26, 2013

Enterprise 2.0 tool vendors at SocialNow #socialnow

Now for some highlights from the vendor presentations in my second post about the SocialNow conference. 

Foulders has not been launched yet, but presented their concept and tool at the conference. They want to start where the users are: their email inbox. And most people have multiple inboxes. So they provide a super dashboard over all your inboxes and help you organize the tasks that come out of your email. They use language technology to help the user quickly and efficiently organize emails in tasks and folders.

Podio was at the conference for the second year. I didn’t hear anything new with respect to the product. There will be a big update to the product in the very near future. Podio is still an impressive product that wants to help us overcome email and make spreadsheets better. Spreadsheets can easily be turned into open and smart Podio apps to improve collaboration and communication around them.

Another new tool to SocialNow is Wordpress with the P2 extension. Wordpress isn’t a new tool, of course. It’s an impressive and widely used platform. The P2 extension makes it very easy for organizations to set up an internal social networking, microblogging and document sharing platform. I really like Wordpress with P2, but I’m biased, because we have developed intranets based on Wordpress and P2.

Xwiki was at SocialNow for the second time. Xwiki is also, like Wordpress, an open-source platform. I saw some new things in Xwiki that I hadn’t seen before. One, you can drag-and-drop documents to wiki and it has a document viewer so you can view the document without having to open it, this also works for video.
Secondly, they add ‘track changes’ and commenting features to wiki’s. So it shows edits and comments in the way you see them in MS Word for instance. As an owner of the page you can accept and reject changes.

Evernote for Business presented their concept. If you know Evernote, you know Evernote for business. The pricing is pretty steep: 10 euro per user per month. They focus on small and medium-sized businesses. I like they way they clearly said who the product if for and who it isn’t for and what kind of things work in Evernote and don’t. For instance, for task management they pointed to other kinds of tools.

Sharepoint revisited SocialNow, but with a different approach. Last year, Microsoft had just acquired Yammer, but it was unclear what this would mean for the Sharepoint platform. Now it (slowly) is becoming clear. This year’s presentation was ‘only’ about Yammer and hardly talked about Sharepoint. Newsgator was not mentioned at all. It was said that Yammer will be the social layer for Sharepoint. And they are working on integrating Yammer with Sharepoint Online and Office365.

Spreadd was at SocialNow and clearly improved it’s user interface. I like the bold way they address modern knowledge worker issues. Do users really search for stuff or would they like to get things pushed to them, do users really maintain their profile or should it be done automatically? Spreadd integrates all the services employees use and publishes the information that changes to an activity stream (taking the security controls into account). Spreadd has not officially launched but is being tested by a large organization.

Zyncro is an interesting internal social networking platform with all the features you would an internal social platform has. I didn’t see any new features compared to last year. But the language detection and translation functionality is impressive and smart. I’m going to look into Zyncro more deeply in the near future.

Yoolink was a new vendor at SocialNow. They are a French internal social network vendor. They also have a mobile version and support SSO. Interestingly they also provide a collaborative whiteboard, so employees can share drawings and make them together.

The vendor presentations are the core of SocialNow. All-in-all I think the state of internal social technology is impressive. I like the way some are really trying to innovate on the edges while others try to provide Facebook- and Twitter-like functionality inside the organization. I do wonder though how some position themselves with respect to other vendors. For instance, Yoolink and Zyncro are interesting platforms, but how do they compare from Jive and Sharepoint/Yammer? Is it price, company size, features? Zyncro for one acknowledge they currently are fit for mid-sized and smaller companies. And Yoolink says they do not (want to) compete with Jive. 

One thing that continues to surprise me in vendor presentations is how many struggle to really relate to the situation of the customer. In this case Cablinc. Many mention the situation of Cablinc in the first part of the presentation and slide to a regular presentation marketing the product and features. And furthermore, the vendors hardly tell Cablinc what value they will be getting from using the platform. I know the presentations have to be short, but still.

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