In the after-lunch lull at Demo 08, a group of companies displayed new sets of collaboration technologies that can transform the way companies connect and collaborate remotely.Chalex showed off its new collaboration platform, with the unfortunate name "BpDam" ("Business Processes" plus "Digital Asset Management," I guess), which allows companies to "manage the life cycle of an asset from creation to deletion, and never have to delete a file."
BpDam is a Web-based software platform that allows "assets" (documents, spreadsheets, Web pages, and so on) to be viewed and edited by multiple users from remote sites. Everything resides on a secure central server in the cloud, and the workflow engine allows every step and each task of a collaborative project to be saved and audited.
Huddle.net takes an offbeat approach to collaboration, attempting to link users' business workspaces with their social communities. In practice that consists of a Facebook application that provides a Web-based collaboration space. Editing, messaging, approvals, and the like can all be carried out within the Facebook application.
The Huddle collaboration platform, said CEO and founder Alastair Mitchell, "is built on top of a new open API -- it's the most open of any collaborative tool on the market."
I'm not that sure that so many workers are really eager to meld their workspaces and their social lives, myself. Catalyst Web Services, by contrast, wants to bring the power of business-class communications and collaboration tools not to social networks but to small businesses. Essentially reproducing the capabilities of Microsoft Outlook in a Web-based, low-cost form, Catalyst strives to allow small companies to share information easily and work remotely -- at an affordable price.
"Small businesses pay for the space they need, not the number of users," says CEO Bob Matthew.
As with other collaborative workspaces, Catalyst's platform allows multiple users to manipulate and edit files remotely, working over the Web with no software downloads required. The company's motto: "We want you to change your 'Outlook.'"
My personal favorite of the collaboration companies was KonoLive, from Israeli company 2Win Solutions. The cool thing about KonoLive is that it's a connected overlay on top of common business applications: you work in Word, or Xcel, and use the KonoLive toolbar to share, edit, and comment on files and documents.
Based on Adobe Air, the software "empowers teams and individuals to get things done together, working in a unified collaborative space with intuitive single-click capabilities," says co-founder and CEO Yossi Dan.
Having covered the Hawaii Ironman World Championships a few times, I'd like it even better if it'd been "KonaLive" rather than Kono, but you can't have everything.