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4/12/2011
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Convofy Private Social Network Plugs Into Geoscience Software

Adobe-backed startup enterprise collaboration product will be integrated into software for oil and gas exploration scientists.

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LMK Resources announced Sunday that is planning to plug enterprise social networking product Convofy into its LMKR GeoGraphix Discovery Suite software for oil and gas exploration. Scrybe, which first made Convofy generally available on April 8, is backed by LMKR and Adobe Systems.

It's easy to see why Adobe would be an enthusiastic backer of Scrybe, which wants to use the Adobe Air rich-Internet-application technology to revolutionize enterprise collaboration. Back in 2007, LMKR joined Adobe in a Series A investment in Scrybe, when the company was best known for having created a Flash-based task manager and experimenting with offline applications of Flash prior to the introduction of Air.

Convofy also happens to look like a tool aimed at the designers and publishers who are Adobe's core customers, given that it goes beyond Twitter and Yammer-style microblogging to offer all sorts of features for sharing documents and images, marking them up in real-time, and preserving the context between comments and the documents or images being commented on.

LMKR's announcement, made at the annual American Association of Petroleum Geologists conference, shows one way the geosciences technology firm sees Convofy having commercial applications beyond the design and publishing sector.

Technology prognosticator Robert Scoble declared Convofy "the future of work," although early reviews have questioned whether this range of features would be enough to let Convofy carve out a niche in the enterprise social network market where products like Yammer, Socialtext, and Salesforce.com's Chatter have a head start.

Also, would the Adobe Air client be a deal-breaker for enterprises trying to stick with browser-based applications wherever possible? Convofy does have an alternate HTML / JavaScript user interface, largely aimed at clients like the Apple iPhone and iPad that don't support technologies like Air and Flash, but Convofy is clearly designed to maximize the potential of desktop integration on Macs and PCs. For example, you can dock a little drop-box widget to the side of your screen and drag documents or links onto it to create conversations around them. Real-time interaction proceeds without the screen refresh delays associated with Web apps. Convofy also provides an embedded Web browser, making it possible to mark up and comment on the Web.

[Updated at 4:20 p.m. to add comments from Scrybe CEO Faizan Buzdar.]

Scrybe CEO Faizan Buzdar previewed the LMKR application this week at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists conference in Houston, and we reached him there by phone. Buzdar said this will be the first of many vertical industry applications for the technology. "Our strategy is to have the best integration stories," he said, with both desktop and Web application programming interfaces. "Although we haven't opened it up publicly yet, that was the plan all along."

Convofy is particularly good for supporting collaboration geared toward "visual thinkers," he said, and he mentioned medical applications where doctors could confer over medical images as another likely application. Although the software wasn't specifically tailor-made for LMKR, the oil and gas software firm had been using it internally and was quick to see how it could be integrated with the company's own products, Buzdar said.

Interviewed by phone from LMKR headquarters in Dubai, spokeswoman Dee Elliott said the tool will serve the critical collaboration needs of scientists assessing oil and gas finds and deciding how to exploit them. "The idea is that you will be able to take pictures of maps and draw circles around something to say this is where you want to drill a well and have a collaborative conversation around that with people at different locations, or even the same location but in real-time," she said.

Collaboration is one of the key features LMKR tries to offer its customers in the exploration and production industry, she said, and the company is always on the lookout for innovative technologies it can incorporate. "Sometimes oil and gas is a little behind in the use of technology," she said.

No definite release date has been set for the plug-in, other than that it will be coming this year, she said.

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