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9/12/2011
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Mindjet Extends Mind Mapping To Cloud, Acquires Cohuman

MindManager gets cloud collaboration tool with Mindjet Connect, while addition of Cohuman adds a social network for organizing tasks and projects.

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Top 20 Top Add-Ons For Microsoft SharePoint
Visual brainstorming specialist Mindjet is adding to its MindManager mind-mapping software with a cloud collaboration tool for organizing work and projects.

Where MindManager is a desktop software tool for Windows and Mac, used to create visual representations of related concepts or processes, Mindjet Connect will be a Web collaboration application that incorporates the same sort of visualizations, which can either be uploaded from MindManager or created and edited in a browser. Mindjet Connect will be available as of Sept. 22 in a free edition, limited to 1 gigabyte of storage, and a business edition starting at $45 per month. Mindjet Connect SP, a version featuring SharePoint integration, is scheduled for release later this year.

Mindjet also will be replacing its mobile client for iPhone and iPad, which it had been charging for, with a free version that works with Mindjet Connect. That is also scheduled for availability Sept. 22. An Android version will follow in the coming months, the company said.

In addition, Mindjet announced the acquisition of Cohuman, which makes social software for organizing tasks and projects.

With Mindjet Connect and integration with Cohuman's service to follow in the coming months, Mindjet is pursuing a vision of "collaborative work management," Blaine Mathieu, chief products officer at Mindjet, said in an interview. "We're not calling it collaborative project management. Project management is something a very small percentage of knowledge workers who are project managers actually do. The average worker probably doesn't think of what they're doing as a project--it's just their work."

Project management and broader notions of how to organize work are at the center of many enterprise social software initiatives, including last week's announcement of Socialcast Strides.

Mindjet's strength in this market will be the ability to manage the brainstorming phase, use visualization to further develop ideas, and then transition a project to execution. Some project managers may use a traditional tool like Microsoft Project when they get to that stage, but Mindjet Connect can still accelerate the process and keep it moving, Mathieu said.

Mindjet Connect will provide a "complete, all-in-one solution," with its own document management system, but can also be used in conjunction with Google Docs, SharePoint, and Dropbox, among others, he said.

The Cohuman acquisition will provide another project accelerator that is "not so much collaboration as coordination," Mathieu said. "It lets you see who is doing what, when, and for whom. It's very important, and not just for project managers, to have a handle on what everyone is doing, with deep visibility into task ownership."

Berkeley Bionics has been using MindManager and testing Mindjet Connect as it moves from research and development to commercialization of its product, a robotic exoskeleton for people suffering from paralysis that it is marketing initially to rehabilitation hospitals. The first shipments of that product are targeted for January, with a home version to follow in late 2013, according to Vice President of Marketing Karl Gudmundsson.

"Part of my responsibility is gearing up for the commercial launch of the product," Gudmundsson said. MindManager has proven valuable for brainstorming, and he is experimenting with using Mindjet Connect to invite larger groups of people, including partners, into the brainstorming process.

"It's surprisingly intuitive--an easy concept, really, if you're comfortable simple visual elements," Gudmundsson said. "We use it to keep a conversation going and capture a lot of ideas." Because his is a very engineering-driven organization, where the engineers are continually "coming up with a lot of crazy ideas, it's helpful to have a framework and a piece of software to help us manage it," he said.

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