Enterprise social networking platforms, sadly, havent shown a lot of creativity when it comes to their interfaces. Frankly, most of them simply copy Facebook.
Familiarity with the look and feel of an app is a good thing, because people are more apt to use it. But a Facebook-style UI might not be the most functional one for an enterprise use case.
Enter Formicary Collaboration Group, which had a different idea. The UK-based company launched a new on-premises enterprise collaboration software platform call MindLink on June 19 at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston.
Designed to Replace Email
MindLink (pictured), which is designed to replace email, is an add-on to standard Microsoft business apps (including Outlook) that enables multiple real-time discussions between groups of people within an organization.
This differs from standard social networking, which connects people on the individual, peer-to-peer level, Formicary Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Daanish Khan told eWEEK. The key feature within the new interface is that instead of one constantly updated list of status updates on a page (like Facebooks), MindLink offers multiple lists (could be as many as 10 or 12, if your screen is large enough to accommodate them all).
This changes the whole idea of enterprise social collaboration because it now becomes much easier to scan various conversations and interact with disparate task groups when they are all there in front of you in real time within the same browser window.
Three Pillars of Use
MindLink is based upon three pillars of use: Your team, your information and your way, or access, Khan said. Its all based on the individual. Its about who am I? Who am I connected to? Its also the intelligence of who I should be connected to, and why?
Its all about me and how I can use the power of my network for my own agenda.
Collaboration is the next priority, Khan said, and that means teams achieving a common goal -- sharing and consuming information in order to complete the project.
Traditional email and social networking technology tools have fallen short in the enterprise in delivering business value because they're not designed for team-based communication, Khan said.
MindLink, on the other hand, was built from the ground up to support efficient communication among groups. MindLink is so effective in the enterprise that the platform can become a true email replacement for groups working on common activities and goals."
What Sets MindLink Apart
MindLink is built on Microsoft Lync, Microsoft's unified communications platform, making it relatively easy to implement into an organization and integrate into employees' daily workflow and processes. Because MindLink is available as either an on-premise or private cloud system, enterprise data security concerns can be mitigated within existing securityware.
MindLink's key business-user features, according to Khan:
- Live team-based content/communication streams: Live communication and information from internal systems (document management, project management, CRM) or external sources (news feeds, public social networks) into focus, team-based content and communications streams.
- Customization: MindLink's LiveStream shows all message updates in separate columns in a single view. MindLink enables employees to subscribe to content that's most relevant to them, eliminating the problem of information overload commonly associated with conventional email.
- Central access to conversation tools: MindLink provides users with a central place to access team conversations and individual instant messaging.
- Status updates: MindLink enables employees to effortlessly keep their colleagues in the know about their whereabouts and availability at all times, reducing the number of missed calls and needless emails.
- Search and storage: All MindLink conversation history is securely stored on premises, not in a cloud. Users can quickly search and retrieve relevant information from MindLink whenever it is needed.
- Universal anytime access: MindLink is available whenever and wherever a user may need it. It works on all major browsers and platforms -- PC, Mac, iPad, Linux.
The MindLink Platform consists of:
- MindLink Anywhere: Browser-based access to topic-based information and communication streams, with custom notifications, instant messaging, activity feed and co-worker connections.
- MindLink Mobile: When users are traveling, they may want to restrict the amount of information coming their way. MindLink allows users to filter out noise by selecting a subset of streams to appear on their smartphones.
- MindLink for SharePoint: For organizations already using SharePoint for team-based project and document management, MindLink for SharePoint lets users introduce communication streams within their community sites. Individual streams can be exposed as SharePoint webparts for specific user communities.
- MindLink for Outlook: Outlook is the default communication environment for most employees. MindLink allows topic-based streams to live alongside individual emails by exposing MindLink in Outlook, enabling fast adoption without taking users out of their comfort zone.
- MindLink Connectors and API: Existing connectors (RSS, for example) deliver content to the appropriate communication streams. MindLink's RESTful API makes it easy to develop new connectors, which helps drive discussions.
MindLink is available as of June 19 on a per-user subscription basis, Khan said.