When one strips away all the marketing hype, technical terminology, and buzzwords from knowledge sharing and collaboration products, the real measure of a tool is simple: does it help get work done? The future of the knowledge workers’ workspace is the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE) but, until our vision is addressed and realized by vendors in this space, it is incumbent upon companies to find tools that support the CBE’s basic principles, namely to provide a single work environment for knowledge workers, reduce friction in knowledge sharing, and embed community into the workspace.
It is easy to lose sight of the fundamental question an organization should be asking when deploying a knowledge sharing and collaboration tool, that is: “how will this tool help my company get work done?” This often happens because products and tools are segmented into arbitrary and confusing market segments (just look at the variation in TLAs in the content management market, you have CM, ECM, WCM, DM, among others).
A breath of fresh air in this space is Yakabod; the company offers a product, the Yakabox, that promises to be an end-to-end platform that gets work done. This offering is a hardware appliance incorporating enterprise search, content management, collaboration, and social networking functionality. A hosted version is also available. Yakabod’s value proposition is to keep things simple by placing those four applications in one place, aiding in knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the ability to find what one is looking for.
The user interface is very clean and straightforward, and features an activity feed-like stream of items that are relevant to the user, as well as user profiles and favorites that are content-based, such as documents, teams, blogs, or any other item in the system. What is presented in the activity feed can be fine tuned via a “Matter Meter”, which can be adjusted to show items of varying degrees of importance. A busy knowledge worker, for example, could set the meter to only show items of high priority. Yakabod’s enterprise search works in a similar way: the system learns a user’s preferences and adjusts search results accordingly based on relevance to the user. The results are drawn from structured and unstructured data sources, including online repositories, wikis, social tools, and existing legacy systems.
To make deployment easier, the Yakabox integrates with existing sources such as Microsoft SharePoint and Office, shared drives, and electronic repositories.
Security is a strong point for the Yakabox. The company has its roots in providing collaboration and knowledge sharing tools to the U.S. Intelligence Community, and the Yakabox meets Department of Defense PL3 security standards.
One promising aspect about Yakabod’s philosophy as a company is the recognition that knowledge sharing and collaboration applications such as enterprise search, content management, collaboration, and social networking are interconnected and interdependent. Put simply, when these normally disparate elements are combined, the sum is greater than the parts. The Yakabox may be in some respects closer to the Collaborative Business Environment than many other offerings currently on the market: it provides a single, overarching environment for knowledge workers, reduces friction in knowledge sharing through tight integration, and embeds collaboration tools into all areas of knowledge work via social networking functionality.
Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.