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Posts Tagged ‘enterprise 2.0’

It’s been almost six months now since I accidentally stumbled upon MangoSpring Collaboration Suite. With our company we are working with Google Enterprise and by browsing through the Google Marketplace I found MangoSpring Collaboration Suite. Our company is specialized in online content and online projectmanagement. We have alot of people working on different locations for customers. With around 30 employees now we have quite alot of knowledge and experience wandering around in our company. I won’t explain the full case, but in short we wanted to connect the employees more, share knowledge and add teamspirit in our company. We already had tried Yammer some years ago, but it died quite quickly. Now we wanted to try MangoSpring, because it also embedded some interesting business tools to do our work, next to chit-chatting.

The product
MangoSpring is a “Complete Real-Time Business Communication & Collaboration Platform” according to their website. You can buy different parts of the suite or the whole suite alltogether:

  • MangoTalk: Microblogging, Instant Messaging, Group Discussion
  • MangoDocs: Document Management
  • MangoProjects: Setup Project environments
  • MangoTasks: Task Management
  • MangoEvents: Event Calendar
  • MangoIdeas: Idea generator

The suite is accessible directly through our Google Apps enterprise environment (browser based), but also by iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android. But where MangoSpring really shines is the excellent desktop application, that is freely available. It takes not only microblogging and instant messaging to the desktop, but also polls, tasks management and document management. A very smart move.

Introduction in the company
I started with inviting some of the people from the different departments to explore and experience MangoSpring as a communication tool. I have been actively asking for feedback at the test users and collected all their remarks, bugs and questions about the system. All the feedback was sent to the developers in the USA and we usually got an answer with in a few hours. This made us confident that we were working with a supplier that actually listens to the customer.

After a few months of trying out and increasing amounts of message we decided to try out the MangoTalk and MangoDocs products to keep everyone updated within the company. Our director now spreads newsupdates through a microblog in a group called “Presenter news”. This instantly updates everyone in the organisation and gives public discussion about news updates. Besides that we shared holiday registration in MangoSpring so everyone can see the current amount of days off left instead of mailing the HRM employees time and time again.

Microblogging

Projectmanagement
A great feature of MangoSpring is the projectgroups. You can share microblogs, documents, blogposts and tasks alltogether in a projectgroup. This group can either be open or only accessible for certain individuals, also outside your company. I’m currently working with non-tech savvy people from another company on a project and I am in touch with them all week long, even when I”m not at the office. This makes projectmanagement from different locations easier. We hardly mail anymore in the project, it all goes through Mango. Also Task Management is integrated in projects, making it easy to (re)assign tasks to fellow employees. A great way to keep up with deadlines.

Desktop in the cloud
With Mango you get a great desktop app with great features. Instant Messaging and microblogging is present in most enterprise tools (like Yammer, although Yammer doesn’t have IM yet), but MangoDocs delivers a really nice document management system on the desktop. You can add documents to groups or projects from the desktop and set up access and viewing rights within a click. This means you can upload, download and replace documents in the crowd. Also version history is now present, which means you can get back to previous versions of a certain document.

Administrator rights
What I really like about MangoSpring are the admin reporting tools. You can see the volume and amount of messages, project messages, IM use on a daily base and instantly see which users are the most active and which ones are lacking in use (and you should contact to why they’re not using the tool yet). You can customize the look and feel of the tool, add other administrators, manage users and groups and import and export data. It’s just a great package altogether and easy to use. You can also deploy the suite on your own system and integrate it with Active Directory.

Task Management within projects

Improvements
No tool is perfect ofcourse and Mango can definitely improve in some aspects. Their mobile apps are sometimes a bit flawing and absorp quite some battery energy for Android users. Also the usability aspects can improve a bit on the desktop app as well as the mobile apps. Luckily the crew responds quickly on feedback and it happened multiple times that our requests were added in the next release of MangoSpring. Quite frankly this is a very complete collaboration suite already, but there’s only one feature that would make it totally complete: a wiki-functionality. Also improved tagging, youtube integration and giving names to links (instead of full urls) would be usefull additions. Also improved usability and accessability for new users could be improved, like easier @-reply’s to other users.

Conclusion
I haven’t mentioned every aspect of MangoSpring Collaboration suite, it has so many possibilities. Things like: cross-search through updates, links, docs and profiles, the excellent profile management, banner options, “mark as read”, “unread messages” lists, hiding feeds, event management, Linkedin-profile importing, document activity tracking, are really neat… Just try it for yourself, you can get a free tour through their website.

Currently we have almost everyone signed up at MangoSpring and the messages and usage is rising on a weekly base. We are expanding activities through the suite and now also work together with a customer in a projectgroup.

Do you want your intranet or enterprise app reviewed? Contact me through Twitter.

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If you ask a random employee at an organisation if he works in the cloud, most of them will respond: “only when I’m in an airplane”. In short: most employees don’t know the difference between a cloud service or a desktop service. And they should not have to know the difference. However, the big difference is that some vital cloud services are not accessible on the desktop, especially the intranet.  I think we will see a shift to a greater use of desktop apps that seamlessly sync with the cloud.

We all know the benefits of cloud computing in terms of accessibility of data. But let’s be honest, how many times did you get phoned by a colleague if you could send document X that was placed on a harddisk at a local network. Or how many times did you have to log-in at someones account, because he had to forget to send this draft document to his home adress. Clearly the step for many users to store their docs in the cloud is too far way. Great desktop apps can lower the barrier to participate in a cloud environment.

Digital workplace
As intranets will shift more towards a “digital workplace” (read this blog by Jane McConnel), the accessability of information will need to move beyond browsers. Ofcourse the most vital information should be available by mobile, but also a desktop app can dramatically increase the use of communicating and sharing information with your colleagues. No wonder that enterprise collaboration tools like Yammer and MangoSpring have invested in a desktop tool.

Users now for example can have a chat with colleagues, share and read documents and discuss topics through these tools. All from their desktop. Everything is happening in the cloud, but the user feels he is just working on his desktop.

MangoSpring desktop app in action

MangoSpring desktop app screenshot

Some benefits are:

  • trigger to engage in conversation is placed on desktop
  • lower barrier for uploading docs in a cloud
  • brings instant messaging and communicating to desktop

I’d like to hear from you: What’s your vision on enterprise desktop apps?

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Lately I came across a very interesting link on Twitter referring me to the Interact Intranet website where I could download a free Intranet Report full of interesting info and a guide on how to deploy a succesfull intranet. A very interesting read and afterwars I was contacted by Interact Intranet if I wanted to have a live demo session of the product. The UK company gives livedemo opportunities through the web while talking you through the product.

Interact Intranet sample homepage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sample homepage of Interact Intranet solution

Demo
After setting up all the webconference stuff it was time for a one hour product demonstration and I must say that Interact has place some very nifty features in their intranet. Here’s a short summary of the most impressive stuff:

Holidays
Users have an amount of days to spend each year on days off. Through Interact employees can see the amount of days they have left. If they want to take some days off, they can digitally mark which dates they want off through the intranet. Automatically a signal will be sent to the manager. The manager has an overview through Interact of all the holiday request and can simply approve or disapprove requests according to the situation.

Configurable homepages
I liked the fact that Interact can make different homepages for different groups of people (depending on location or group or country). Also the homepages are totally configurable with different widgets.

News widget with “i have read this” tickbox
If you want to spread really important news through the company that requires reading, you can add a tickbox to the news to let users confirm they have read this. Shouldn’t be used often, but can be very interesting to put a little extra pressure on super important info.

Form builder
Excellent form builder that could really help workflows getting organised through the intranet. Easy to create and use forms are quite underestimated in many company’s (usually you have to e-mail a service centre and you always seem to forget some informatie. Or even worse: you have to download a Word-document, fill it in and e-mail it to the service centre)

Intelligent search
You can tag information and the system will suggest which tags fit best to certain information. Besides that it keeps track on which keywords and tags have been searched the most the past period of time. This gives very valuable insight in what kind of information is relevant and most searched by users.

Phased social implementation
Not every organisation is ready to embrace social elements into their intranet. Some are really quick, for others there’s a real cultural challenge. Nice thing about Interact Intranet is that you can introduce social elements gradually. Start maybey with an own profile for employees and gradually add social elements. This will increase adoption rate and gives users the time to slowly learn about the intranet.

No calendar/events
This is a feature I really missed though. I have to be a bit critical as well. I missed the ability to organise events and invite people/groups to join the event. A really interesting feature that could really save time in organising events and making guestlists.

Conclusion
Interact Intranet really looks like a great solution and combines traditional and social elements in a great way. If you are interested in getting a live demo go and visit them. Do you have an intranet product or CMS you wish to see reviewed on my blog? Please contact me through Twitter

Interact Intranet People Directory

Sample page of a people directory

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