» Archive for the 'Collaborative Business Environments' Category

Lotus Gets Social

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Cody Burke

How do we connect the dots?

The talking points at this year’s Lotusphere were all about people, people, and people.  The official tagline of “Get Social. Do Business” was tempered with an emphasis on remembering that the point of social activity is not just sharing and moving documents around, but allowing individuals to communicate more effectively with one another.

The buzz word for the new generation of Lotus products is “Next.”  The gist of Next is that IBM is taking a set of social features developed in Project Vulcan (the company’s collaboration, business analytics, and aggregation user experience initiative) and applying them to the core products, namely Notes and Domino, Sametime, Connections, and LotusLive.  The underlying idea is to build a platform that incorporates various social features such as activity streams, content sharing, and automated suggestions of relevant content, people, and groups or communities.

Additionally, the new features and interfaces will be standardized across the offerings, to create more symmetry between the Notes desktop and browser-based tools such as LotusLive.  They will also include new calendaring features such as the ability for non-chairs to edit calendar entries.  The Next group of offerings will move into beta later this year.

Here is a quick look at the major collaboration and knowledge sharing announcements coming out of Lotusphere:

Activity Stream Clients for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Nokia
This set of clients will bring the new and refined activity stream functionality to mobile devices, and allow users to take action on items without leaving the mobile environment, a concept that extends to the other announcements, and is referred to by IBM as “embedded experience.”

LotusLive Symphony
This cloud-based release of the company’s office productivity suite will feature real-time co-authoring, in-line commenting, presence integration, the ability to assign sections to specific authors, notifications of edits, versioning, and auto save.  It will be available as a technical preview next week, and is expected to be released in full in the second half of 2011.

LotusLive Next
LotusLive Next will benefit from the new activity stream, which looks quite powerful and uses complex algorithms to filter and surface relevant content, people, and groups for the individual user.  The stream presents relevant applications, content, people, activities, mail, and even voicemail.  A useful feature is the ability to hover over suggested content to see why it was suggested, such as mutual interests or past projects.  As in the mobile activity stream clients, users can view and take action on items in the stream.

Connections Next
New features will include a new media gallery for video and photo sharing, ideation, enhanced community moderation capabilities, a Microsoft Outlook social connector, ECM library integration via widgets, and plug-in connectors for Notes files.  Another new feature is a share box, which allows quick and painless sharing of content without having to leave the environment.

Sametime Next
Sametime will be seeing advancements in the mobile realm, with an upcoming (second half of 2011) native Android client that provides the full functionality of the current Nokia, RIM, and browser-based iPhone applications.  Additions include support for location information and voice-to-text and text-to-voice capabilities.  Further down the road, IBM expects to release native iPhone and Symbian3 applications and increase its focus on audio and video functionality.

For the desktop client, Sametime Next will feature video conferencing, browser-based online meetings, and audio and video functionality via browser plug-ins.

Notes and Domino Next
The big news around Notes and Domino Next is, of course, the social aspects that the features and interfaces that have emerged out of Project Vulcan, such as the activity stream and share box.  Domino will also be moving towards cloud deployment, and users of LotusLive will be able to run Domino applications via the cloud.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

Plato Turns 50

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 by David Goldes

Imagine a world without the collaborative tools we take for granted today. Decades before the emergence of the Internet and World Wide Web, computer pioneers were building Plato, a system that pioneered chat rooms, e-mail, instant messaging, online forums and message boards, and remote screen sharing. 

When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself. -Plato

Plato (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) was the world’s first computer-aided teaching system and it was built in 1960 at Computer-based Education Research Lab (CERL) at the University of Illinois and eventually comprised over 1,000 workstations worldwide. It was in existence for forty years and offered coursework ranging from elementary school to university-level.  

Social computing and collaboration began on Plato in 1973. That year, Plato got Plato Notes (message forums), Talk-o-matic (chatrooms), and Term-talk (instant messaging).  

Plato was also a breeding ground for today’s technology innovators. Ray Ozzie, the creator of Lotus Notes and Microsoft’s chief software architect, worked on the Plato system in the 1970s as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Many others including Dave Woolley, who wrote Plato Notes at the age of 17, Kim Mast, who wrote Personal Notes (the e-mail system) in 1974 at the age of 18, and Doug Brown, creator of Talk-o-matic, continued to develop collaborative technologies in their careers.  

Don Bitzer, credited by many as the “father of Plato,” is the co-inventor of the plasma display and has spent his career focusing on collaborative technologies for use in the classroom.  

This week we celebrate Plato’s 50th anniversary. Why a week and not a day? I spoke with Brian Dear, whose book on Plato (The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the Plato System and the Dawn of Cyberculture) will be published later this year,told me “[I]t’s hard to pin down an exact date, due to a) it being open to interpretation as to what qualifies as the first day — when the project got green-lighted? when they started designing it? when a system was actually up and running? when they did the first demo? — and b) there’s little lasting documentary evidence from those earliest weeks.”  

“May 1960 was when Daniel Alpert’s interdisciplinary group that had held meetings for weeks about the feasibility of the lab embarking on an automated teaching project, finally submitted its report to Alpert. He read it, thought about it, and decided to ignore the group’s recommendation to not proceed. Instead he asked if a 26-year-old PhD named Don Bitzer wanted to have a go at it, and Bitzer agreed. Consequently, on June 3, Alpert wrote up his own report to the Dean of the Engineering School, which instead of reiterating his group’s recommendation to not go forward with a computer education project, stated that they were indeed going forward. Bitzer went right to work on it, brought in others to help with the hardware and software, and they had a prototype up and running pretty quickly that summer. The rest is history.”  




David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

In the briefing room: Venuegen

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 by Cody Burke

I recently had the pleasure of attending a meeting on the deck of a sailing yacht; the sky was clear and the waves lapped pleasantly on the boat’s hull as I listened to our host explain his company’s vision for the future of enterprise collaboration.

And it never needs cleaning...

And it never needs cleaning...

At times, he got rather excited, gesticulating and laughing at jokes.

The amazing thing was, I did this all without leaving my office.  Instead, I was immersed in a 3-D virtual environment.

Meetings have been taking place in online environments, such as Web conferences, on a regular basis since PlaceWare was launched in the 1990s.  While there have been some significant improvements since then, the basic model hasn’t changed.  Meetings remain a combination of screen sharing, audio call in, and perhaps some integrated functions such as chat, hand raising, and polling.  Unfortunately, many subtle communication cues are lost due to the lack of a richer interface.  Advanced telepresence solutions are available to a limited few, but the cost of these solutions will not lead to mass adoption in the near future.

Second Life, a pioneer in 3-D virtual environments, has struggled to find a compelling business niche.  Indeed there was an initial land rush to set up virtual store fronts and facilities in Second Life but most people seem to have moved beyond.

The Venue Network is a company that developed Venuegen, an immersive, browser-based 3-D environment that is strictly business.  The system is simple to use and manage and offers a variety of meeting environments, such as conference rooms, lecture theaters, a coffee shop, the set of a late night talk show, and of course, a yacht.  Venuegen offers useful functionality that allows organizations and users to personalize the meeting experience.  One example: users can upload a personal photo that is then used to create a life-like avatar.   As with more traditional systems, Venuegen supports a variety of content, including slides, documents, flash content, video, and integrated Web browser and chat.

Avatars also have a wide range of facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language options that can be either randomly generated or manually controlled.  Slider bars are used to set levels of interest, intensity, and posture.  The on-screen avatar reflects these settings with remarkably lifelike movements and gestures, a manager can express anger or happiness while speaking with sales agents at a meeting, meeting attendees can express their impatience with an overly long speech or laugh at jokes.

Venuegen is a huge leap forward in enterprise-level 3-D virtual meetings, primarily for the features that personalize and bring a human element back into the meeting.  We have lost many of the visual cues that play such a large role in human communication as we have moved towards more online meetings, and Venuegen may truly be an idea whose time has come.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the Briefing Room: Kana 10

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 by Cody Burke

One can find software for virtually any purpose today, yet this very fact highlights a key paradox in the knowledge economy. 


Kana 10 allows companies to create process flows visually

Today’s software tools can handle almost any task but, since they are mostly not integrated with one another, they force users to shift constantly between windows and interfaces in the course of completing a task.  This results in significant amounts of wasted time, and perhaps more critically, missed opportunities to obtain valuable information needed to execute tasks effectively.

The need to constantly shift between tools is a problem that will have to be addressed as companies move towards the deployment of a true Collaborative Business Environment (CBE), our vision for the future of the knowledge worker’s workspace that will drive efficiencies.  The CBE’s basic principles are the One Environment Rule (a single work environment), Friction-Free Knowledge Sharing, and Embedded Community.  Clearly, the problem of too many tools and interfaces is at loggerheads with the concept of the One Environment Rule.

Software companies have taken note and are moving to provide solutions.  Kana, a CRM company, has begun to address the problem for call center agents and managers with its Kana 10 platform.  Kana 10 is a CRM system that aims to optimize the experience for customers by providing agents with information that is contextual to the call they are on, without requiring them to leave the environment.

The primary point of interface for Kana 10 is the Adaptive Desktop, a single desktop environment that changes based on the user’s needs to present the modules, information, and cues to guide an agent through a given process, such as a conversation with a customer.  The system hinges on the idea that a system that provides all relevant information in the context of what the agent is doing will improve service and efficiencies.

To this end, Kana focuses on Service Experience Management (SEM), which in laymen’s terms means that the experience is controlled in near real-time as the agent progresses through a customer interaction.  Changes that are made to processes are reflected quickly, with no IT department involvement required.  Process creation and changes are done through a simple drag-and-drop interface that builds a process flow.  The ability to create flows that automate functions reduces the steps that must be taken by the agent, such as having to shuffle between windows and cut and paste information.

Kana 10 gives organizations the tools to build call center work environments that exhibit many of the positives that a true Collaborative Business Environment has to offer.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the briefing room: Mindjet Catalyst

Thursday, October 15th, 2009 by Cody Burke

Collaboration should be a given in practically every task a knowledge worker undertakes.

Mindjet Catalyst

Mindjet Catalyst

Frequently, however, it isn’t and, in many cases, where collaboration does take place, it is not used to its best advantage.   Part of the reason for this is due to much collaborative work taking place without a full a picture of the project at hand.

Indeed, there exist different dimensions to collaboration and there is a significant need to connect knowledge workers, the collaborative process itself, and the organization with relevant complex information, ideas, and processes.  Given the trend towards both a dispersed workforce and the need for collaboration among multiple entities, the need to effectively manage a project requires new approaches to joining people with information.

One approach that will make collaboration between knowledge workers more effective is to ensure that the supporting information is captured in a form that adds context and is easily shareable.  To add context, information must be linked to people, documents, and other supporting content.  One method of doing this is to create a mind map.  Mind mapping is a technique for brainstorming and organizing data that starts with a central point and then adds branches with related content such as links, documents, attachments, notes, and tasks.  The resulting diagram is a visual guide to a set of information that allows knowledge workers to see the big picture and understand the context of what they are doing.

One company active in this space is Mindjet.  The company has made its reputation through the development of mind mapping products, such as its MindManager product line.  Adding further value to the company’s mind mapping capabilities, Mindjet recently launched Mindjet Catalyst, an online visual collaboration platform.  The offering has clear roots in Mindjet’s visual approach to mind mapping that the company is know for, and adds a team-based collaborative element.

Catalyst is an online service and can be accessed from anywhere via any Web browser and hooks into standards-based document repositories such as SharePoint.  Multiple users can make edits and attach supporting documents and other content to a mind map and have the changes reflected in real time.  The offering also includes pre-built map templates for common business situations such as online meetings or idea generation sessions.  Once maps are generated, they are shareable with colleagues (both users of Catalyst and with those who do not use the product) via links that are e-mailed or posted on social networking sites.  Workspaces are assigned with permission levels to assign reader, author, and owner access.  In addition, the environment is persistent, meaning that users are able to see changes that have occurred.

Catalyst also features integrated online chat functionality, and (optional) Web conferencing capabilities.  The integrated online chat embeds community into the work environment and allows for communication between colleagues without forcing them to leave the environment and switch tools.  The Web conferencing module includes desktop sharing, video and VoIP support, file transfer, and session recording.

Mindjet has taken a good and underappreciated idea, the visual mapping of information, and successfully integrated into it collaborative capabilities and tools.  Displaying information in a visual and connected way gives the knowledge worker context that is critically important for making informed decisions, capturing new information, and understanding business processes.  The addition of powerful collaborative elements extends the value of mind mapping by allowing knowledge workers to use the environment for the kind of collaborative team-based work that is a reality in the knowledge economy.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the briefing room: Teleplace 3.0

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 by Cody Burke

The Teleplace 3.0 environment.

Meetings, particular the online variety, can be dull, tedious, and, most importantly, not terribly productive for participants.  This may very well have something to do with the medium and the manner in which the meeting is conducted.  In a typical online meeting, the main speaker may share his screen with the attendees, roll through a slide deck, perhaps demonstrate an application, and solicit feedback (in online meetings this occurs via the fairly rudimentary tools found in most meeting environments).

The limitations of this kind of approach to meetings are significant: a single two-dimensional interface common to all participants and a lack of a connection between participants due, in part, to a lack of visual cues.  In addition, online meeting rooms typically differ from their real-life counterparts in that materials and files are typically not stored in them.  Many meetings are ongoing; participants meet several times a week or month and need to update materials in between, as well as to be able to return to a virtual room and have the needed materials in one place, in the state in which they left them.

As anyone who has read Snow Crash knows, the concept of using virtual environments for business use is not new.  Organizations as varied as IBM and the U.S. Army have explored the possibility of using virtual worlds for training, meetings, and collaboration.  During the recent Second Life land grab, enthusiasm for which has since died down, that virtual world was flooded by companies establishing virtual properties for marketing and customer outreach.  Ultimately however, the perception of virtual worlds and environments as a toy, not a tool, has proven difficult to shake.

One company that is pushing the business case for virtual environments is Teleplace, née Qwaq.  The recent name change was part of a shift the company is taking to make clear its focus on enterprise customers.

Teleplace 3.0 is the latest version of the company’s online environment for meetings, training sessions, visualization, and virtual operations centers.  Teleplace has been designed from the ground up as a business environment first, and a 3-D virtual world second.  Spend as little as an hour in Teleplace (I’ve spent several already), and you will see it is suited for serious business.  In Teleplace, business applications exist in a persistent state on virtual walls and displays.

Teleplace can accommodate different sized meetings: small meetings with a handful of people allow for complete interaction amongst participants.  Virtual lecture halls can handle up to 60 people and, if more attendees are expected, can support a broadcast mode that can go to thousands.  Participants can use a laser pointer to direct everyone’s attention to objects or specific areas of a chart.  Meeting leaders can bring people into rooms or areas, and also conduct polling and control communications.

There are many features in Teleplace that effectively demonstrate that virtual environments can be an effective business tool.  Teleplace goes beyond the traditional meeting environment and provides tools that have the potential to introduce greater efficiencies into the workplace.  One example is the persistence of the environment; this is a huge step up from traditional online meetings; an attendee can view a shared chart or slide show on a display wall, move to another area to interact with other attendees, and then simply return to the wall to view the chart again.  Environments that have been populated with content, such as video clips, slide decks, documents, and integrated business applications, remain in place, enabling users to drop in and out and later return to the same work area.

Virtual work environments may in some ways remind us of their toy predecessors, but offerings such as Teleplace 3.0 remind us that they are in fact powerful business tools.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

The Content Management Interoperability Standard

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 by Jonathan Spira

Editor’s note: The following article was published in conjunction with the release of the Basex report series, The Definitive Guide to Today’s Content Management Systems and Vendors.

For organizations with multi-vendor, multi-repository content management environments, the time and money that must be spent to integrate these systems with other enterprise tools, as well as to get disparate content management platforms to somehow talk to one another, is significant.  Until such integration occurs, a sizable amount of content is accessible only within its original platform.  This means that most organizations have not even come close to unlocking the full value of their content.

As companies move deeper into the knowledge economy, content management is no longer a platform that can evolve separately from other key application platforms in a company’s information infrastructure: it has to be fully integrated.

The future of the knowledge workers’ desktop lies in a fully-integrated Collaborative Business Environment, a workspace that supersedes the traditional desktop metaphor and provides the knowledge worker with access to all forms of information, resources (including people), tools, and applications that support his work.  A true Collaborative Business Environment will include systems that integrate multiple content repositories and provide seamless access to enterprise content.

Content management vendors recognized that a common standard was needed; one that would allow knowledge workers to access disparate repositories and, in 2006, EMC, IBM, and Microsoft began discussions towards that end.  The result was the Content Management Interoperability Standard, or CMIS.  The new standard is a jointly developed specification that uses Web Services to enable application interoperability with disparate content management repositories.   By the time CMIS was announced in September of 2008, the three partners had been joined by Alfresco, BEA (now Oracle), Open Text, and SAP.  At that time, the standard was turned over to OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) for advancement through its standards development process.

The goal for CMIS is to reduce the impact on IT stemming from maintaining multi-vendor, multi-repository content management platforms.  Companies typically incur high costs in order to create and maintain code that integrates different ECM systems within their organizations.  Software vendors have to create platform-specific applications that work with a specific CM platform.  The CMIS specification is designed to support integration between multiple vendors and repositories, making the added expense a thing of the past.

CMIS, which is development platform and language agnostic, is designed to support existing content repositories, meaning that organizations will be able to unlock content they already have built up, in some cases, over several decades.  It will decouple Web services and content from the repository itself, thereby allowing organizations to manage content independently.  It also supports the development of composite applications and mash-ups.

Currently, multiple vendors and platforms support CMIS including Acquia, Alfresco, Day Software, Drupal, Ektron, EMC, Fatwire, IBM, Joomla, Microsoft, Nuxeo, Open Text, Optaros, and Vignette (recently acquired by Open Text) among others.

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

In the Briefing Room: Oracle WebCenter 11g

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Cody Burke

The recent trend towards updating portal platforms with a variety of social features and mashup capabilities is indicative of the growing recognition that this sort of functionality has significant potential business value.  Social software and collaboration tools, which have become increasingly popular in the consumer space, facilitate the kind of tacit and ad hoc interactions that can drive productivity and increase knowledge sharing.  This shift is occurring in lockstep with the move towards the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE).

Today’s companies use a variety of tools and platforms to support knowledge sharing and collaboration. This has proven wholly unsatisfactory because knowledge workers frequently can’t find the information they are looking for and find themselves perpetually reinventing the wheel, resulting in a loss of efficiency and effectiveness.  Help, however, is on the way.  As companies move more and more towards the model of the Collaborative Business Environment, a term Basex uses to describe an all encompassing workspace that will supersede the traditional desktop metaphor in a period three to five years out, the lines between different types of software and tools will begin to blur and eventually disappear.

Solutions that will serve as a Collaborative Business Environment will come from “traditional” IT software vendors as well as new upstarts.  One platform worth looking into comes from Oracle.

Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g is the latest release of the company’s enterprise portal platform. It adds social features that begin to move the product to be more in line with current trends towards social and ad hoc communities and collaboration.  Using Oracle WebCenter Spaces, users can set up formal or ad hoc work spaces and communities for team members and projects; these can be assembled on the fly and function as team portals.  Oracle WebCenter Services enables tagging, linking, rating, recent activity feeds, RSS, and networks of personal connections to be integrated into existing business applications.  Applications themselves can be manipulated and customized into mashups via Oracle Composer, a browser-based tool.  A catalogue of applications and content is also available through Oracle Business Directory, a library of enterprise applications, processes, content, and business intelligence that can be utilized to create custom dashboards.  WebCenter has the potential to serve as the foundation for a Collaborative Business Environment, supporting a single work environment and social tools that can reduce friction in knowledge sharing.

In addition to Oracle WebCenter, Oracle recently introduced Oracle Beehive, which provides a collaboration platform with team workspaces, instant messenger and presence awareness support, blogs, and wiki capabilities.  The combination of Oracle WebCenter and Beehive will provide companies with a solid foundation for a platform that integrates traditional portal functionality with social software and collaboration tools, thus bringing knowledge workers into an integrated environment that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration, and ultimately, helps them find what they are looking for.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.  He can be reached at cburke@basex.com

In the briefing room: Yakabod’s Yakabox

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by Cody Burke

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.

In the Briefing Room: Gordano Messaging Suite

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 by Cody Burke and Matt Siper

With apologies to Paul Newman, “[W]hat we have here is a failure to communicate” is an aphorism that could be heard in the boardrooms of many companies.  This is, in part, because few companies have deployed knowledge sharing and collaboration tools that allow co-workers to communicate effectively.

One model for such platforms is the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE).  A CBE is a workspace designed for the knowledge worker that supersedes the traditional desktop metaphor by providing one single work environment, Friction-Free Knowledge Sharing that eliminates extra steps, and Embedded Community through presence awareness and integrated communication tools such as instant messaging.

One company that offers a viable solution for companies in need of a Collaborative Business Environment is Gordano, which offers the Gordano Messaging Suite (GMS), an e-mail and instant messaging server.  Companies can integrate e-mail and IM functionality into a variety of external systems through open APIs and mashup technologies.  Perhaps the best example of this is the Microsoft SharePoint integration that the company introduced in version 16 of the Gordano Messaging Suite; it enables full integration of address books, calendars, and other PIM data with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, allowing for user accounts to synchronize GMS data within the SharePoint interface.

Earlier versions of the platform already supported the ability to integrate instant messaging with Microsoft Office via Gordano’s Collaboration Sever.  Additional integration allows GMS as share calendars, contacts, notes, folders, and address books Office.  Access is also possible through other clients including Apple iCal, Mozilla Calendar, and GMS WebMail.

While Gordano handles typical tasks such as e-mail and IM very well, what’s really interesting is the Gizmos feature, essentially JavaScript mashups that can be configured to extend functionality through the creation of custom buttons and actions.

While Gordano might not be right for all organizations, their tools are worthy of consideration, especially by existing Microsoft customers that would like to embed collaboration tools on the road towards building a Collaborative Business Environment.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.   Matt Siper is an analyst at Basex.