Collaboration tools I’m considering

We’ve been looking at various Web 2.0-ish collaboration tools that might make our life easier when working with clients on projects. I introduced some of my team to some of the poster children of the collaboration space:

www.dreamfactory.com

www.huddle.net

www.basecamphq.com

The feedback was interesting: DreamFactory was too sophisticated. The view was that if you wanted to go this far as DreamFactory would let you then you may as well stick with MS Project. Basecamp on the other hand was too simple, little better than just using basic Outlook Email and Google Docs. Huddle seemed just right. In particular its support for online editing of Word and Excel docs (using Zoho for extra Web 2.0 brownie points) in addition to offline editing was singled out for praise.

This feedback is based on a particular way of working so won’t work for everyone. However it was surprising to me (as a Ruby on Rails believer) that Basecamp got such short shrift from people with no axe to grind. I’d welcome any views on the pros and cons of various modern collaborative tools.

Procurement Solutions Exhibition – Things I might be buying

I was at Procurement Solutions yesterday as a speaker. But also walking the exhibition floor I came across two companies which looked pretty cool and which I will be checking out further:

Huddle

Huddle is one of the UK’s rising stars in the Enterprise 2.0 space. They make very simple online collaboration software, in a similar vein as Basecamp. Why am I interested? I am looking at better ways for us to integrate with our clients during our projects. Trouble is, most of our clients aren’t very familiar with MS Project. So a non-MS Project project managemnet/collaboration tool is going to be interesting. Especially if the price tag compares favourably against MS Project. Huddle’s Head of Marcomms was on the stand and she was refreshingly candid. I asked her how the product compared to Basecamp and DreamFactory. She wasn’t familiar with DreamFactory but there and then googled them, on her laptop which was hooked up to the plasma display on her stand. She didn’t drill into their site, clearly – she just looked at the google results. But it’s refreshing to see someone who can be open about their product and its merits compared to the rest of the marketplace – and doesn’t need to rely so much on spin. (Unless of course she was secretly spinning me in some subtle way I didn’t notice).

Mimio

Mimio make devices that attach to your whiteboard and capture the information on the whiteboard electronically. It’s all very automagic but the bits I played with and looked at certainly seemed to work. Now, I adore whiteboards. So something that can extract the scribbles I make on whiteboards – and at a sub $1000 price tag – is going to be interesting to check out further.

The consumerisation of enterprise (e-sourcing) software

Hand on heart, what would you say are the most popular e-sourcing technologies amongst buyers? How about:

  • Outlook
  • Google
  • Excel

Sorry Ariba, sorry Emptoris, sorry Procuri, sorry Iasta.

This pattern extends far further than just the world of procurement.

Once I, like many others, used to assume that dragging users by their ears until they saw the light of a new enterprise system was just part of the normal process of deploying a new enterprise software system. They used to call it change management.

But again, like many others, I have been blown away by how fast adoption can kick in for software that is genuinely good and flexible enough that people want to use it.

Imagine enterprise software that didn’t need change management. Imagine users demanding software. Like they do with MS Office, email, Google Maps, etc. Imagine software that doesn’t add new features for the sake of it release after release, but just builds one or two pieces that work well and which people can understand fast.

Now look at Huddle, or Coupa, or 37Signals. These guys are onto something.