Off to the (Collaborative) Races!

We are seeing a wave of new entries into the collaboration software category which incorporate the new hot web 2.0 applications.  Everybody and his brother is building platforms with profiles, blogs, wikis and rss, and depending on which piece the developers know best, that piece is the centerpiece.

The Blogtronix people clearly believe that the Blog shall make you free, but for good measure, they tack on a wiki and some file management. They actually suggest that their software can be used for a customer support center, where customers can make blog posts about whatever their issue is.

At Social Platform, they are in love with the MySpace-style social networking approach, in which for reasons still not entirely clear to us, busy working people will post all kinds of stuff about themselves and then go looking for other people who have similar interests.

Intel Capital is putting together a well-publicized, if not yet extant, effort called SuiteTwo, in which different firms contribute the wiki (Social Text) , the blog (SixApart),  the RSS feed (SimpleFeed) and an RSS aggregator (NewsGator) and they are all integrated on a platform by a fifth organization, SpikeSource. Because the publicity effort is trying hard to give all partners equal billing, and because there isn’t an app to look at yet, it’s not clear on which syllable this offering will place the emphasis.

We think that it is the give and take of discussion, as facilitated by excellent discussion software, which drives successful online collaboration, so much so that our discussion engine is the basis for most of our stuff, even our blog and wiki implementation.

It seems to us that the winner in these races will be the organization that can make the best case for having a deep understanding of the collaborative process and how software can be best be implemented to facilitate it.

2 comments on “Off to the (Collaborative) Races!”

  1. Heather Todd

    Optics or genuine collaboration?

    I agree with you Valerie – regarding making the best case for having a deep understanding of the collaborative process. I think are raised in a process which often dismisses the importance of cultivating collabortation (think of the way we were educated, or think of the traditional business model where people in lg coroporations often become compartamentalized). When I see a business establishing a blog to listen to its customers, I often have to wonder if this is a superficial veneer at establishing “collaboration”. Pehaps I am a cynic! Does the company really want to listen, and take that extra step at making changes that they had not anticipated in order to meet the responses to the customer? How does a company learn when to listen, when to pursue a change, or perhaps address why this sort of change is not viable or will have unintended consequences? How can we as consumers tell the difference when collaborative platforms are implemented to really hear what their community is saying, and when its just there because its trendy and the hot new tool? And better yet, how do we go about teaching “collaboration literacy”?

    thanks for the thought provoking discussion!

    Heather

  2. Valerie Bock

    I think the proof is in the pudding. It’s extremely risky for any organization to invite conversation, and then ignore what comes of it. People quickly notice whether there are actual human beings being responsive to the concerns raised. They also notice if posts critical of the level of quality or service fail to appear. It’s just not really possible to sustain a collaborative effort in the absence of genuine good will and commitment to the process on all sides.

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