Industry Updates

Team Collaboration Report, Aug 15

Norada Outlines its Development Principles
George from Norada outlines the key principles/tenets that are driving the development of the next version of Solve360, its online email, calendaring and contact management application:

  • The Web is the new desktop … people will spend more and more time working in the browser than with applications installed on a local hard disk. This has some major implications for architecting Web applications.
  • Web applications must be able to interact with other web applications … so as to enhance the user experience and deliver greater value to the user.
  • Your applications should do things your ways … that is, the user can set up the interface they way they prefer it, and the application remembers that and displays it automatically the next time the user logs in.

George concludes by saying:

In rethinking and redeveloping Solve360 to embrace the above three tenets, we’ve taken an evolutionary approach that builds on the features and platform we’ve have honed over the last two versions of the product. We’re confident, and our users have confirmed, that we’ve got a lot of the functionality and tools right over the last couple of development cycles. Where the new version crosses over into revolutionary territory is how we’re leaving behind the framework and interface constraints of the current Web that force users into one-dimensional, linear, hierarchical applications in favor of a mutli-layered, openly configurable environment.

Source: Norada Blog
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Review of Basecamp vs. activeCollab
Brendon over at Slacker Manager analyzes activeCollab, the so-called Basecamp killer, and concludes that either would suit him just fine for the lightweight projects he manages.

  • In favor of Basecamp … easier to set up and get running, RSS is supported today, other 37signals services like WriteBoards and Campfire can be integrated, easier to set up new projects, and better support for milestones.
  • In favor of activeCollab … can tag just about anything in the system (although Bren wants some changes), easier to access companies and people within new projects, stronger permissions system, support for unlimited file attachments, and easier to create and assign tasks to people.

Bren writes:

Both of these apps are solid and ready to use. Basecamp has a fee structure for any serious use, but in order to use activeCollab you have to have an account with a webhost. Basecamp is dead simple to get started with and I’ve never had any trouble with their billing system. activeCollab is easy enough to install for moderate to advanced users who are comfortable installing things on webservers, but there’s definitely a higher barrier to entry. On the other hand, though Basecamp offers some options for changing colors, activeCollab, since it’s open source and resides on your own server, is fully customizable by those who know what they’re doing.

Source: Slacker Manager
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Mira who?
Novell responds to Mirapoint’s migration program for Novell GroupWise customers with “who is Mirapoint?”

“Mirapoint has not been on our radar; we stay focused on the two players ahead of us in the market: IBM Lotus Notes and MSFT Exchange,” said Wendy Steinle, director, product marketing, GroupWise and OES. “That’s a position we’ve been in for some time and we don’t see that changing. Our focus has helped our partner ecosystem become richer. We’re seeing strength that growth in our partners as a result of our Linux focus. Our customers can do business when they need to from wherever they need to, as GroupWise Mobile Server delivers mobile connectivity on more devices and more device platforms than any competing solution.”

Source: Integrated mar.com
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Online Applications as Adjunct to Office
eWeek evaluates the current crop of online productivity applications, and concludes that they should be viewed as complementary to Microsoft Office, not a replacement thereof.

We … recently put three Web-based office productivity suites to the test, to determine what the apps have to offer end users and whether they make sense for business use. We evaluated ThinkFree’s ThinkFree Office Online; Silveroffice’s GOffice; and Ajax 13’s AjaxLaunch …. In general, we found a lot to like about the online productivity suites we tested, but they do lack a lot of the features and functionality that corporate users rely on. We therefore believe that it will be a long time before conventional desktops office suites are overthrown.

Major points against the three suites: little or no security, no offline support, lack of capabilities that some users will need, and some reliability problems.

Source: eWeek
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Zimbra Collaboration Suite 4.0
Zimbra released Version 4.0 of its Collaboration Suite, with the addition of Zimbra Documents the big new thing.

Zimbra Documents allows for ad hoc collaboration–users can share pages, invite other users, set parameters (such as read-only, edit, add, remove, accept, decline)–and takes advantage of Zimlet mashups and search. However, unlike a wiki Zimbra Documents doesn’t yet support version history. Zimbra CTO Scott Dietzen said that feature is slated for the next release.

Other new capabilities include support for mobile devices (with over-the-air native sync), and new administrative capabilities.

Source: ZDNet Blogs, MacNN, InfoWorld
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ROI from Collaboration Technology
Benchmark Research recently completed a sponsored research study looking at the returns from the use of collaboration technology in the construction industry.

The study found that in terms of project management, communications and team working: 98% of collaboration technology users felt they benefited from having information held centrally; 91% said they spent less money on postage and couriers; and 86% reported an overall improvement in communication. Furthermore, in terms of document management, storage and retrieval: 93% of users said there was less chance of losing important documents and 90% said it was easier to find and retrieve their documents.

A particular area of benefit was found in risk management efforts:

Managing project risk is vital for clients and poor document control is a primary cause of conflict and disputes on projects. Collaboration technology ensures that the latest revision of each document is stored securely, whilst fully searchable audit trails are maintained to improve accountability and help resolve disputes fast

Source: InfoLink
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IBM Acquired FileNet for $1.6 Billion
IBM acquired FileNet, a provider of document, content and business process management software; FileNet has 4,700 customers around the world. IBM paid $1.6 billion in cash; the acquisition is expected to close in 4Q2006. FileNet will beef out IBM’s product line in the area of business process management, especially if it integrates well with Workplace.

IBM plans to build upon the advanced Content Management technologies of both companies to provide customers and partners with industry-focused, high value solutions that are able to proactively capture and deliver content as part of a business process. These technologies can be integrated into IBM’s service oriented architecture (SOA)-based capabilities, including business process management and information lifecycle management.

Jim Murphy at AMR Research says the acquisition is most likely motivated by customer acquisition and competitive positioning, rather than filling technology gaps. Cliff Reeves from Microsoft says that FileNet was/is vulnerable, due to EMC Documentum’s push from the high-end, and Microsoft’s entry at the low end. Matt Asay of Alfresco (but writing on an InfoWorld Blog) says it is about IBM wanting to sell consulting services to FileNet customers; he recommends that FileNet customers look at open source ECM platforms, such as Alfresco. FileNet partners hope that IBM doesn’t stuff up.

Source: FileNet, with coverage at InformationWeek
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Open Text FirstClass 8.3
Open Text released Version 8.3 of FirstClass Collaboration Suite, a communication and collaboration offering.

FirstClass enhances communication and collaboration within a secure, networked environment with applications such as e-mail, instant messaging, calendars, contact management, workgroup collaboration, document sharing, file storage, web publishing, blogging, podcasting, and unified voice and fax messaging.

Version 8.3 introduces collaborative workspaces (discussion, calendar, contacts, documents, and bookmarks), a revised user interface, SyncML support, and Mac OS X for PowerPC and Intel platforms. Available immediately.

Source: Yahoo! Business
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