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Category: Enterprise Blogs & Wikis (page 1 of 7)

Filtering Microblogging and Activity Streams

The use of microblogging and activity streams is maturing in the enterprise. This was demonstrated by recent announcements of enhancements to those components in two well-regarded enterprise social software suites.

On February 18th, NewsGator announced a point release to its flagship Enterprise 2.0 offering, Social Sites 3.1. According to NewsGator, this release introduces the ability for individuals using Social Sites to direct specific microblogging posts and status updates to individuals, groups, and communities. Previously, all such messages were distributed to all followers of the individual poster and to the general activity stream of the organization. Social Sites 3.1 also introduced the ability for individuals to filter their activity streams using “standard and custom filters”.

Yesterday (March 3rd), Socialtext announced a major new version of its enterprise social software suite, Socialtext 4.0. Both the microblogging component of Socialtext’s suite and its stand-along microblogging appliance now allow individuals to broadcast short messages to one or more groups (as well as to the entire organization and self-selected followers.) Socialtext 4.0 also let individuals filter their incoming activity stream to see posts from groups to which they belong (in addition to filtering the flow with the people and event filters that were present in earlier versions of the offering.)

The incorporation of these filters for outbound and incoming micro-messages are an important addition to the offerings of NewsGator and Socialtext, but they are long overdue. Socialcast has offered similar functionality for nearly two years and Yammer has included these capabilities for some time as well (and extended them to community members outside of an organization’s firewall, as announced on February 25th.) Of course, both Socialcast and Yammer will need to rapidly add additional filters and features to stay one step ahead of NewsGator and Socialtext, but that represents normal market dynamics and is not the real issue. The important question is this:

What other filters do individuals within organizations need to better direct microblogging posts and status updates to others, and to mine their activity streams?

I can easily imagine use cases for location, time/date, and job title/role filters. What other filters would be useful to you in either targeting the dissemination of a micro-message or winnowing a rushing activity stream?

One other important question that arises as the number of potential micro-messaging filters increases is what should be the default setting for views of outgoing and incoming messages? Should short bits of information be sent to everyone and activity streams show all organizational activity by default, so as to increase ambient awareness? Perhaps a job title/role filter should be the default, in order to maximize the focus and productivity of individuals?

There is no single answer other than “it depends”, because each organization is different. What matters is that the decision is taken (and not overlooked) with specific corporate objectives in mind and that individuals are given the means to easily and intuitively change the default target of their social communications and the pre-set lens through which they view those of others.

eTouch Releases SamePage 4.2

eTouch SamePage has announced it has released SamePage version 4.2 with a customizable dashboard, stronger e-mail integration and advanced plug-in features in order to meet the needs of a remote and social-media friendly workforce. SamePage version 4.2 includes a number of new features important to remote and knowledge management workers including: advanced email integration that enables remote workers to more easily ‘wikify’ content from any smartphone; dynamic portal-like dashboard with drag and drop widgets that can be personalized at company and individual levels, eliminating the need for a separate intranet portal product; a wide selection of new plug-ins that can be customized for each enterprise, including tag cloud and project member plug-ins, among others; more detailed analytics, usage and content reports for administrators; ratings on Blog posts and more blog analytics; Support for Microsoft Office 2007; WYSIWYG enhancements to further simplify the user interface; and increased privileges for the system user or administrator to manage pages and projects. http://www.etouch.net/

Bluenog Releases ICE 4.5

Bluenog announced the availability of Bluenog ICE 4.5, an Enterprise 2.0 application development platform built on pre-integrated open source collaboration, content management, presentation and reporting projects. ICE 4.5’s Integrated Collaborative Environment of content management, portal, and business intelligence software now includes an Enterprise Wiki, secure group calendaring features and enhanced centralized administration. ICE 4.5 aggregates functionality from over a dozen open source projects into a single commercial product, with additional integration and features, all supported by Bluenog. This pre-integration helps eliminate the need for developers to manually code features such as security permissions and access to legacy systems across all their applications. Based on the JSPWiki open source project, ICE 4.5 allows users to create and share content through a portal interface. Stored in a secure, enterprise-wide repository, all Wiki pages can be searched, with access permissions defined at the Wiki and page level. ICE 4.5 also introduces an enterprise group calendaring application based on the open source project, Bedework. Bluenog has extended Bedework with secure, restricted access to calendars based on user, group and role. Another feature introduced in ICE 4.5 is ICE Central. This Central Administrative Console includes an improved interface for handling user groups and permissions across ICE’s CMS and Portal components. Additionally, its propagation tool enables bulk import/export of ICE CMS Content Types and Content Data assets. The new release extends ICE’s CMS functionality with an enhanced rich text editor and configurable HTML cleaner. These new features allow for a more customizable, browser friendly Ajax-compatible style. Bluenog ICE 4.5 will be generally available June 30, 2009. Bluenog ICE 4.5 is available via annual subscription and includes 9×5 support. Priced per-server rather than per-CPU or per-user. http://www.bluenog.com/

Oracle Announces Enhanced Oracle Beehive

Oracle announced enhancements to Oracle Beehive. Oracle Beehive delivers a range of collaboration tools including email, calendar, team workspaces, conferencing, and instant messaging on a single platform. With the enhancements, organizations using Oracle Beehive can establish more efficient communication channels to enable easier collaboration and improve individual and team productivity. Updates to the latest release of Oracle Beehive include‚ Web-based Team Collaboration – team workspace software that builds on an enterprise-specific security and compliance framework offers an environment for teams to manage activities and information; it includes wikis, team calendaring, RSS support, contextual search, and advanced file sharing and can be centrally provisioned or set up by the team with no portal requirement; Enhanced Web and Voice Conferencing – enables organizations to apply security and content management policies to conferencing; expanded feature set includes on-demand conference recording and retrieval; Expanded Integration with Desktop Productivity Tools – helps eliminate training costs and user adoption challenges by allowing users to take advantage of familiar software. Oracle Beehive can be deployed on premise or through Oracle On Demand. www.oracle.com

PBworks Launches Legal Edition of Hosted Collaboration Suite

PBworks, formerly known as PBwiki (the company officially announced the name change this week), a  provider of hosted collaboration solutions for business and education, announced the launch of PBworks Legal Edition, the first of the company’s market-specific solutions. PBworks Legal Edition applies hosted collaboration to the unique business needs of law firms and corporate counsel. PBworks Legal Edition includes all of the features of PBworks Professional Plus, such as unlimited storage for documents and files, full-text search of document content, Mobile Edition access via Blackberry and iPhone, and 24/7 customer service. The new solution adds complete audit logs of all activity, built-in legal templates that firms can customize for their business processes, and bundled professional services to optimize the rollout and adoption process. PBworks Legal Edition is available immediately at a starting price of $50/attorney-user/month. Licenses for paralegals, legal secretaries, and other staff and clients are included for free. http://pbworks.com/, http://pbwiki.com

Critical mass

Every now and then the question of critical mass pops up when discussing the uses of social media in companies and organizations. “How many users should we have before social media is useful?” IMHO there is no absolute answer to the question, as it depends entirely on what you use social media for. A wiki can be very useful for a project team of 4 people to produce project documentation – especially if they happen to reside in different countries. A board of directors consisting of 6 people can save time by having agendas and and meeting minutes stored in a shared workspace and edited by all members.

Social media is inherently social, so instead of defining critical mass one could say that the minimum mass for social media is 2 people. If writing a blog saves you a couple of emails, that is already good. Now, I am not against email per se (although my inbox is a disaster, and I never remember which folder I stored that email containg a really good link). It is just that email was never intended to be either a teamwork or an information management tool, although it is often used as such.

Tomorrow I will be talking about business opportunities in multilingual social media here in Helsinki. It should be an interesting event – more about it tomorrow. As for now, I want to conclude this entry by referring to the fact that lack of time is often mentioned as one of the main obstacles to using social media. This can well be a generational issue. The younger generation uses IM and Facebook and is almost constantly online. I still seem to spend a lot of time in meetings, or writing and preparing materials, or reading and evaluating a lot of stuff. And despite of coming from the land of mobile phones I prefer calling people to sending SMS or Twitter messages. A good friend of mine has done a lot of research on learning, and has pointed out that learning requires long enough quiet time to absorb and understand new topics and ideas. In an environment with constant instant messaging, where do we find that quiet time for learning?

Atlassian Helps Children Read

Atlassian announced today the Atlassian Stimulus Package, a discounted offer on two of it’s most popular products, Confluence and JIRA. This offer is intended to benefit three different parties: Atlassian, small workgroups using these products, and children in developing countries.

Here are the details of Atlassian‘s package, which features the number 5. For the next five days only, teams of up to five users may purchase an annual license to either Confluence or JIRA for $5. Atlassian says that these are fully functional versions of the software, not “light” versions. In addition, the license is renewable annually for the same amount and includes support from Atlassian.

Atlassian stands to gain from this promotion, of course. The company should gain many new subscribers to its products as a result of this offer. Their hope is that the small teams using Atlassian software will influence others within their organization, leading to additional purchases at full price.

Small workgroups of up to five people also benefit from this deal, because they can purchase proven collaboration tools at a huge discount and can continue to use the software at an extremely low annual cost.

The real winner from the Atlassian Stimulus Package is impoverished children around the world. Atlassian will donate 100% of the proceeds from this promotion to Room to Read, a charity that builds libraries for children in developing countries. Atlassian‘s goal is to donate $25,000 to Room to Read, as a result of selling $5,000 in discounted Confluence and JIRA licenses on each of the next five days. More kids will have books to read — or learn to read in the first place — as a result of Atlassian‘s and Room to Read’s joint effort.

Hats off to Atlassian for crafting a marketing promotion that not only sells software, but also benefits less fortunate children around the world!

Happy Birthday to the Wiki!

The first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was created 14 years ago today, by Ward Cunningham. Since then, the wiki has become one of the most widely deployed collaboration tools available. One might even call the wiki the catalyst of the Social Software movement.

Why is the wiki so popular? There are several reasons, including ease of use, structured navigation, and the ability to track changes to wiki pages and roll back to previous versions. The democratic nature of the format, in which anyone who has access can edit the wiki, is undoubtedly a major contributor to its success as well.

The primary reason for the wiki’s success is its flexibility. Wikis have been used for everything from collaboratively authoring a document, to managing a project, to establishing a corporate knowledge base. We are seeing the same phenomenon today in Twitter, which is being used in ways that its creators never imagined.

So, at age 14, what has the wiki taught us? That collaboration tools should be designed for flexible, yet intuitive, use. Complexity is kryptonite to collaboration. Let’s remember that before we build and deploy enterprise collaboration software.

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