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Mashup Technology July 20, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Technology.
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Recently I have been trying out the Mashup Editor known as Yahoo Pipes.

This is a fascinating example of how to combine information from different web sites and sources, all done through a visual example.  It is still under development, but it shows a very useful trend toward allowing users to construct complex reports.

While most of the examples that we have seen are consumer-oriented, it is likely that enterprise applications will appear as well.

Check it out here.

Google is developing something similar, but it has not been released yet.

Also, you should check out Microsoft’s Popfly, which is a similar mashup tool.

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How is Collaboration Software Used in the Enterprise? July 16, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Technology.
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From our perspective, there are three levels of collaboration software.  In general, these are increasing in complexity, and each builds on the prior one:

  • Content-oriented collaboration deals with allowing users to see, edit, and organize content, such as pages and documents.  This is the oldest and most traditional form of such software.  The main objects are content oriented, such as a Word document, a web page, a news article, etc., and the environment provides users, views, editing facilities, classification tagging, etc.  From this definition, tools like wiki’s and blogs are still within content collaboration, as they are really just pages or articles, with annotation, date tracking, link tracking, etc.  The canonical example might be eRooms (now owned by Documentum), with Wikipedia being a more recent example.
  • Relationship-oriented collaboration: deals with the producer of the content, how that content is perceivedby others, and how content gets to others.  Besides the objects listed above, the main objects are ratings, scores, rating-based filters, etc.  Examples of problems addressed by relationship collaboration that are not handled by content collaboration would be identifying experts in an organization based on ratings given by others, identifying the content needs of the readers based on their usage pattern and ratings, organizing a knowledge base of support questions by having generators of questions be linked to providers of answers of questions, and providing notifications of new content that is or may be of interest to users at their endpoints.  The canonical example might be help desk or knowledge management software, another example being illumio from Tacit Knowledge systems, but I would also classify Facebook and MySpace in this area.
  • Process-oriented collaboration: deals with the reason for producing the content or change in content, within a process context.  Besides the objects listed above, the main objects are workflows, cases and contexts, approvals, rules, pending changes, etc.  For instance, an insurance case might be opened for an accident, and that case would have content placed into it, including documents and photographs, while the system is also maintaining information about the status of the case, who needs to work on it next, what activities are pending, etc.  The canonical example of such a solution is probably FileNet, however, there are clearly examples of systems built within domains, such as nearly all of the operational systems for insurance, medical, manufacturing, or sales management.  Examples of platforms for building process collaboration solutions include Lotus Notes, or Salesforce.com.