Although I am an active blogger and an avid user of a couple of different wikis, I often get questions from IT executives about the real value of wikis and blogs in the enterprise. Certainly, it exists—and in the next few weeks I’ll try to delve into some of the ways companies can leverage the technology internally and externally. But if getting your head around this Web 2.0 technology seems difficult, consider an interesting, enterprise-ready alternative: Parlano’s MindAlign persistent group chat tool, powered by presence and now offering full support for Microsoft’s Office Communicator.
I’ve been watching Parlano for a few years now, and I like what they do. They’re more than just enterprise IM; they enable group discussions that fit perfectly with project teams and other enterprise groups that routinely need to collaborate and communicate with one another. The software is specifically designed for enterprise use, and the company “gets” the needs of both IT and end users. This isn’t a free consumer product that you can sneak into the company on a grass-roots level. But sometimes, you only get what you pay for.
Here’s what paying for Parlano gets you.
• Topic-based, persistent group channels that let teams maintain an ongoing, searchable (and archived) dialogue about business-critical issues and projects.
• An interactive channel list that lets users monitor activity across multiple discussions as soon as they sign on to their PCs.
• Visual and audio notifications for new messages.
• User-defined filters, so employees can automatically see the messages that are most important to them.
• Federation to public IM (with MindAlign for LCS).
• Integration with other IT systems.
The software also allows groups to store and monitor related data files and URL links; gives admins complete control over channel access, as well as a host of compliance and admin-related capabilities; and, not incidentally, leverages enterprise presence information.
The version that supports OCS is even richer. MindAlign 2007 is a .Net client that can take advantage of all the LCS features (security, anti-spam etc.). It also positions Parlano to make use of Microsoft’s UC extensions, so users will be able to access all the available extended communications features they (or their IT managers) want, allowing companies to connect people on any communications medium—voice, video or web collaboration. That means that once people are organized around topics, they’re no longer limited to chat-based communication; instead, they can collaborate by any mechanism that makes sense, including VoIP calls, audio conferences, Web collaboration sessions and video conferences.
For the enterprise, it’s like a wiki, only better.