17 March 2009

The simple 10 of online collaboration

1. Forums. Yes, forums seem very old-school Web 1.0. But they are an effective tool and are being updated by vendors and included in integrated online collaboration services.

2. Wikis. This is currently a hot space, hugely competitive with many vendors, but also with a lot of adoption. Wikis nicely fit the gap between email (which is unstructured and bad for creating shared content) and traditional content management systems (which are too process-intensive).

3. Blogging. Blogs and comments are a good way to spread and find information.

4. Microblogging. The 140-character limit forces brevity, a huge blessing in the corporate context! There are many "Twitter for the enterprise" offerings. They feel more like features than distinct products, ripe for integration in larger offerings.

5. Document workflow. This seems really old school, even pre-Web 1.0, but most business processes require a document of some type. Some vendors are putting these features in the cloud as well as integrating them with other collaboration tools.

6. Email. We don't even think of this as collaboration. It's just what we do all day, every day, like breathing. But the evolution of email and its integration with other tools is an area seeing a lot of innovation.

7. Document creation. This is the office on the web, the online alternative to MS Office on your hard drive. Collaboration capabilities are the driver for this market.

8. Conferencing. Whether for text, voice, or video chatting or screen-sharing for demos, web conferencing is the alternative to expensive, eco-damaging, nerve-wearing travel.

9. CRM. As CRM moves more online, it becomes more about online collaboration. Some simple online collaboration tools can be alternatives to low-end CRM. We see opportunities in CRM 2.0 that really take advantage of online networking.

10. Contact networking. This is the space dominated by LinkedIn and Facebook. In our view, it is the key to CRM 2.0.

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