MindTouch (news, site) has a new version of their Intranet solution out today, Social Intranet with Workforce by Dachis Group. It is collaboration in the context of true business systems and a clear example of why you need a platform, not just simply an out of the box application to get the capabilities you really need.
The MindTouch/Dachis Connection
A little background. Back in June, Dachis Group selected MindTouch to be a part of their strategic collaboration platform. MindTouch is the base for the Dachis Group’s Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is their internal collaboration laboratory for testing and operationalizing social business environments.
So basically, Dachis Group has implemented MindTouch and is using it as their collaboration platform. Pretty straightforward. Kind of like a customer win, something we don't typically discuss. But it gets a little interesting from here for a few reasons.
Expanding on the MindTouch Platform
There are a number of collaboration solutions on the market right now. Many of them call themselves platforms and some actually are. A platform enables an organization to extend a solution to fit their needs and requirements. Because the truth is, while we may have a lot of the same base requirements, there are always nuances to how we do our business that drive us to customize.
And this is what Dachis Group has done with MindTouch. According to Bryan Menell, Director of the Collaboratory, Dachis got tired of using a number of different applications to support their work (Basecamp was one these applications). He indicated too many logins, too many screens. They wanted to reduce complexity, and as a result increase adoption, a perfect reason for the MindTouch platform.
And so, leveraging MindTouch, they built an integrated project tracking system, issue management system and threaded micro-blogging application. For the most part, there is no major breakthrough application here, it's all fairly standard capabilities. The key is that it is all integrated into a single platform -- one login, one place to work.
Enough of the customer win warm and fuzzies, what's the point?
Giving Back to MindTouch
MindTouch and Dachis have maintained an open dialog on what they are doing with the platform, how they are addressing things like customer needs and so on. Obviously MindTouch was impressed with what Dachis had done with the platform, and as a result the two have collaborated on the next iteration of the MindTouch Social Intranet (formerly known as the Collaborative Intranet).
Dachis turned their applications over to MindTouch. Why didn't they keep it for themselves? What are they getting out of it?
Well they planned to keep it for themselves actually. But they also thought that their own customer base would like the solution and that there are others out there needing the same capabilities in a single platform. Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch told us that they took the applications, applied some spit and polish (my words not his), primarily QA and packaging, assigned a team to continue evolving the suite and in return provide Dachis with a much lower cost of maintenance (so Dachis can influence new functionality, but not have to build or maintain the applications themselves).
That is the story of how Social Intranet with Workforce by Dachis Group was born. Here are the basics of what you get:
- Social Intranet: Profiles, enterprise dashboards, collaborative web-based authoring, connectors to integrate enterprise systems, branding
- Workforce: Projects, Issue Tracking, Commenting
Collaborative Social Enabled Platform
I don't think the platform concept is that hard to sell. The benefits of having everything in one place seem pretty obvious. After all, to be effective and hopefully efficient, working in a single environment is a hundred times better than moving between applications, trying to remember more than one password and just generally figuring out how all your information fits together (yes, I feel your pain every day).
Fulkerson explained that MindTouch focuses on two types of customers: those that use their Social Documentation Suite (formerly the Technical Documentation Suite) and those that use their Social Intranet solution. Both of these solutions are built on the MindTouch platform (obviously) and are clear demonstrations of how you integrate social, or collaborative, capabilities with actual business requirements/systems.
I will say, I'm a bit disappointed that MindTouch replaced the word collaborate with social in the naming of their two primary solutions. I understand that social is the buzz word that everyone is using today and from a marketing standpoint it makes sense. But it almost feels like it takes away from the vision that MindTouch has always talked about, the "collaboration in context".
Intranets have always been "social", depending on your definition of social. They haven't always been collaborative. The same goes for collaborating on documentation. To me, the social features are simply a part of true collaboration, they shouldn't be the defining features. At some point, we will all stop using the word social and an intranet will once again become just an intranet, the social part will just be ingrained in everything we do with it.
You can get more information on MindTouch's Social Intranet with Workforce by Dachis Group, and if you think you need something completely different, get your own MindTouch platform and build away.