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6/14/2007
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Five Enterprise 2.0 Startups To Watch

To differentiate their products from companies like Microsoft and IBM, they'll have to do things differently.

Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 technology taken to the corporate world. Just as in the consumer Web, the goals of Enterprise 2.0 technologies are better collaboration, easier information management, and more personalized productivity.

And just as in the consumer Web, from mashups to wikis, startups abound. Next week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston (a conference run by InformationWeek parent company CMP Media) will see startups alongside companies like Microsoft and IBM. To differentiate, they'll have to do things differently. Here are five presenting or showing their wares at next week's conference that may meet that challenge.

  • iotum: Presence technology aims to make communication smarter by letting people know if someone is available to take a call. The reality is that presence is typically a pain to constantly update and stumbles at organizational boundaries. Startup iotum's "relevance engine" automates the process, and its hosted services get rid of those boundaries. The relevance 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 recently, iotum's Talk-Now app for BlackBerrys might escalate that customer's importance so the customer could see the salesperson's presence information or have his calls patched through more often.

  • WorkLight: What good is Enterprise 2.0 for collaboration and worker productivity if people don't have the right information on which to act? WorkLight's server-based software has adapters to extract data from enterprise apps like SAP and Oracle, convert that data into a uniform format and expose it to any one of a host of Web 2.0 interfaces using RSS, JSON, or JavaScript (think Ajax apps). It also has a GUI designer to create gadgets to customize the look and feel of the information being presented. And it all integrates with existing security measures. One scenario: enabling real-time feeds on Google Personalized Homepage, a gadget, or a corporate Web portal that let finance teams know whenever an invoice becomes overdue more than 45 days.

  • Connectbeam: Search works well when machines handle the algorithm, but as sites like Del.icio.us show, people can add a layer of relevance. Connectbeam's social bookmarking product allows employees to bookmark pages, label them with tags, and put related bookmarks into user defined "topic" buckets that could be anything from a project to individual research. Connectbeam also integrates with enterprise directory services to create a social network of tags, so employees can find colleagues with like interests. Connectors with enterprise search vendors mean a search in Google Enterprise Search, for example, will not only be returned with traditional results, but also related Connectbeam tags and users.

  • OpenTeams: OpenTeams claims it has "reinvented" the wiki, and sure enough it's come close with an interface that greets users with a three-pane look and feel reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook. The left-hand 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 makes it easier to track changes to the wiki -- something often tough to do without looking at individual page history -- by notifying users of any changes made to a page they've been tracking. Another smartly added feature: integrating related wiki pages into a hierarchical "briefing" or narrative view of an idea or proposal.

  • Mindquarry: It's advisable to pay attention when SAP co-founder and chairman Hasso Plattner invests in something. One of those ventures is Mindquarry, an open source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint that includes a Java-based desktop client with features for file and document sharing, task management, wiki editing, and collaboration in chat rooms and forums. The current product is downloadable, but next week at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, the company will announce a hosted service for businesses that want to get Mindquarry up and running quickly.

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