Five Enterprise 2.0 Startups Worth a Second (Or First) Look

By J. Nicholas Hoover

When you think of Enterprise 2.0–how wikis, blogs, search engines, mashups, social networking, and other Web tools are being applied to the business world–you probably don’t think of established vendors. Sure, the likes of Microsoft and IBM romp in this market, mostly with platform add-ons, but startups generate most of the buzz.

At this week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, run by InformationWeek parent CMP Technology, the following five clever startups (among others) are showing new Web-based ways to collaborate, manage information, and promote more personalized productivity.

IOTUM Presence technology is supposed to let people know if someone they’re trying to call is available. The reality: Presence is a pain to update, and it stumbles at organizational boundaries. Iotum’s “relevance engine” automates that process.

The engine pings a user’s instant messaging client, calendar, recent call history, and list of important contacts to automatically determine how calls should be handled or what presence information should be displayed to a potential caller. For example, if it sees a salesperson’s been calling a customer a lot, Iotum’s Talk-Now app for BlackBerrys can escalate that customer’s importance so the customer can see the salesperson’s presence information or have the salesperson’s calls patched through more often.

WORKLIGHT What good is Enterprise 2.0 collaboration and personalization if employees don’t have the right information on which to act?

WorkLight’s server software has adapters to extract data from Oracle, SAP, and other enterprise apps, convert that data into a uniform format, and expose it to any one of a host of Web 2.0 interfaces using RSS or JavaScript (think Ajax apps). With its interface, you also can create gadgets to customize the look and feel of the information being presented. And it all integrates with existing security. One scenario: creating a feed that the accounts payable team can put on its Google personalized home page to tell it whenever an invoice becomes overdue more than 45 days.

CONNECTBEAM Search works well when machines do the Web crawling, but as sites like Del.icio.us show, human input can add relevance. The Connectbeam on Demand and Connectbeam Appliance social-bookmarking products let employees bookmark pages, label them with tags, and put related bookmarks into user-defined “topic” buckets around everything from a group project to individual research.

Connectbeam integrates with enterprise directory services to create a social network of tags, so employees can find colleagues with like interests. Connectbeam also combines with enterprise search products to return queries with related Connectbeam tags and users.

OPENTEAMS Claiming it has “reinvented” the wiki, OpenTeams comes close with an interface that greets users with a three-pane look reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook. The left pane is a list of topics and colleagues to track; the middle pane lists documents that fall within individual topics or are created by those colleagues; and the right pane shows an individual document. OpenTeams also notifies users of any changes made to a wiki page they’ve been tracking. Another smart feature: integrating related wiki pages into a hierarchical “briefing” or narrative view of an idea or proposal.

MINDQUARRY It’s worth paying attention when SAP chairman Hasso Plattner invests in something. One of those ventures is Mindquarry, an open source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint that includes a Java-based client with features for file and document sharing, task management, wiki editing, and chat rooms and forums. The current product is downloadable, but next week the company will announce a hosted service.

Source: Information Week

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