The most desktop-centric of the enterprise social networks is coming to the Web and the iPhone.
Scrybe's Convo (formerly Convofy) will continue to promote the virtues of tight desktop integration, making it easy to drag and drop a desktop file into a social conversation, comment on it, and annotate it--features appreciated by power users--but the same conversations will be available by logging into a browser-based user interface or accessing the service from a mobile phone.
"Up to today, Convo has basically been a desktop app, and what we've achieved by doing that is really high engagement," Scrybe CEO Faizan Buzdar said. However, within any organization there are also "people who are less engaged and might sign in once or twice a day," he said. For those people, and for anyone who is less inclined to use the desktop interface, Convo will now provide a Web interface that's still pretty slick, even if it doesn't match absolutely every feature of the desktop software.
In addition, Convo is recognizing the importance of Web access. Convo for iPhone is available now, and Buzdar said an Android app would follow within a month. Convo is also available for access from other phones through a mobile browser, with one version that should provide basic access even to older smartphones and another that takes advantage of the latest HTML5 capabilities.
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Meanwhile, the name change is occurring now because Scrybe only recently acquired the rights to the convo.com domain, having always preferred Convo as the product name, he said. Like Yammer, Convo is available in a free version. A Convo Premium version with more administrative controls is available for $5 per user per month, with enterprise licenses negotiable.
Scrybe has been a pioneer in creating rich Internet applications that combine Web and desktop resources, originally coming to market with a calendar and personal productivity application. Scrybe's embrace of Adobe technologies, including Flash and later Adobe Air, won it financial support from Adobe. Another of Scrybe's backers, LMK Resources, is in the process of building Scrybe's Convo into its software for oil and gas exploration as a tool for scientific collaboration.
The real significance of desktop integration is that it allows social collaboration to be more tightly linked to business applications and to the work employees are doing in those apps, Buzdar said. Other enterprise social networks revolve around posting status messages and reviewing streams of updates from other users. The problem with that is that "the individual activity stream becomes just about chitchat," according to Buzdar. For an enterprise social network to be productive, he said, "comment and chat has to be enabled on individual work items."
In the Adobe Air version, Convo allows you to dock the enterprise social network interface to the side of the screen and drag and drop files, links, or images to add them to a social conversation. Convo also provides collaborative editing and annotation features. For example, if you were commenting on a screen shot of a page on your public website that wasn't displaying correctly, you could add a pointer linking your comment to the specific part of the image you were critiquing. The browser-based version of Convo allows you to do almost all the same things. The mobile version isn't intended to support quite the same degree of collaborative editing, but it will allow employees on the go to add their comments.
The iPhone app actually depends primarily on HTML5 functionality, supplemented by native code for a few iOS-specific functions, Buzdar said. Among other things, that design will help Scrybe port the application to Android more quickly because only a small portion will need to be rewritten, he said.
Competitors aren't blind to the importance of the desktop. There actually is a Yammer Desktop application available for Windows and Mac computers, and Yammer is pursuing another sort of desktop (and Microsoft Office) integration with its recent acquisition of OneDrum.
This video includes customer testimonials on the value of Convo's approach.
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