As our month's focus on enterprise collaboration draws to a close, we know now that collaboration is the act of working together towards a common goal and enterprise collaboration is a group of people working to achieve the goals agreed upon by those in an enterprise. Over the past couple of years, we have seen a large number of Enterprise CMS vendors develop software products to help people in the enterprise do just that.

The goal is to facilitate collaboration between individuals working in geographically disparate locations using features from a wide list of software possibilities.

While most large enterprise content management systems will offer some collaboration features, many of the big vendors in the marketplace have developed software aimed at bettering collaboration.

So who is producing what? It is impossible to list everything from everyone, but some of the major players in this emerging market, listed alphabetically, include:

Autonomy

Just about everything Autonomy (news, site) is built or based around its Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) server and its ability to discern patterns in information.

As a result, one of its major collaboration efforts has been with its Collaboration and Expertise Networks (CEN), which aims to build communities of expertise through collaboration.

These social knowledge networks overcome “situational myopia," by which we mean the inability of individuals, or groups, to see and relate the different elements of a problem.

IDOL forms a conceptual understanding of how users interact using information as it is used and created. Autonomy relates that information by mutual interests bringing similar groups together. Autonomy offers users

  • Implicit Profiling: Recommends experts and relates them based on the enterprise information they use in email, IM, documents and voice
  • Explicit Profiling: Users can describe their own expertise and relate to others with similar interests and expertise, while IDOL can relate them based on metadata
  • Alerting: Users are informed when data and people are added to the network that have similar interests and goals and brings them together
  • Clustering: IDOL clusters disparate pieces of information by concept, matching them to the conceptual profiles of experts in real time

These are only some of the features that stand out here, but there are many more.

EMC

EMC aims to enable enterprise collaboration through its Enterprise Project Collaboration solutions that offer what EMC (news, site) says are the key elements in enterprise collaboration: Task scheduling, team collaboration and portfolio visibility.

EMC builds collaborative components using EMC Documentum eRoom that provide:

  • Global collaboration: Provision of a collaboration workspace that pulls together geographically displaced teams
  • Standardized processes: Using workspace templates, enterprises can offer predictable and repeatable processes
  • Extended portfolio visibility: With project visibility, enterprises can prioritize tasks, attribute resources and streamline processes
  • Improved performance: Compare projected costs and actual costs to ensure compliance with enterprise resources

Documentum eRoom enables collaboration on documents, group activities and the development of products and services by global teams. Features that facilitate this include:

  • Dashboards: User-designed dashboards that manage a number of eRooms related to the project, offering the users access to the content
  • Single Environment: A secure environment that enables users to collaborate as if they were in the same place at the same time; the environment is accessible by anyone from any department
  • Project Visibility: Provides managers with views of project status; enables the creation of tasks and milestones and provides visual display of interrelated tasks
  • Encryption: Enables internal and external teams to develop encryption policies for content that they have created, enabling users take that content from the eRoom if necessary

IBM

Lotus brings together email, collaboration tools and other business applications that are accessible through an integrated desktop connecting different locations.

IBM (news, site) describes the software as an integrated desktop client option for accessing business e-mail, calendars and applications.

Big Blue has been diligent in pushing this across all markets, with its most recent coup the release of Lotus Notes Traveler for Android.

As an enterprise stable, it is widely used, despite inroads into its traditional market by SharePoint 2010, or offerings from smaller vendors. Features include:

  • Social: Business collaboration and networking capabilities including dynamic profiles, wikis, blogs, shared files and team spaces
  • Communications: Includes real-time collaboration functionality with voice, data, video, meetings and telephony
  • Single Point Access: One point of access to most of the common collaboration tools including email, calendars, instant messaging, office documents and contacts
  • Connect: Users can locate and connect with resource using presence awareness, business cards and instant messaging incorporated in context

Laserfiche, SharePoint

The Laserfiche-SharePoint integration takes the best of SharePoint offering collaboration and portal functionality, while Laserfiche (news, site) brings document imaging and content management into the equation.

Combined, they bring imaging functionality to collaboration portals in SharePoint. Once the Laserfiche-SP web part is added to the SharePoint server farm, it can be added to any SharePoint portal.

With it, users can search any part of Laserfiche’s folder structure, point the web part to a specific folder in Laserfiche and then pull the imaged documents in any collaborative process.

This functionality helps make access to needed content simple for the user, because the relevant information is presented to them in a uniform interface and they don’t have to try to determine where the document is actually stored

OpenText Collaboration

OpenText (news, site) has been working in the collaboration space since the beginning and has made enterprise collaboration a cornerstone of its enterprise content management suite.

Emphasizing the need to transmit knowledge across the enterprise, particularly to those in disparate locations, OpenText says that one of its principal aims with collaboration software has been to deal with the fact that many “baby boomers” are nearing retirement age.

The goal, it says, is to ensure that enterprises don’t lose intellectual capacities as people retire and to enable the transfer of shared knowledge from one generation to the next.

The result is a number of collaboration components that enables employees and business partners share knowledge and collaborate in the context of business processes.

To do that, it has developed three principal collaboration components with the OpenText ECM Suite. These include:

  • Open Text Communities of Practice: This is a standalone component that enables communities with common goals and interests to share knowledge and best practices; it comes with workspaces, forums, blogs and community spaces
  • OpenText Extended Collaboration: Offers a knowledge repository with project workspaces, polls, news channels, task list and milestones; for wider communities, it comes with specialized enterprise-ready tools
  • OpenText Content Server Pulse: Offers overall view of what is happening in the OpenText Content Server, part of the ECM Suite, Content Lifecycle Management and other products; enables users to discover and collaborate on content

There are, of course, more enterprise collaboration applications available at the moment, with different abilities for different kinds of tasks. If you are interested in more of those products, you can follow our coverage and assessment of those products here, or keep an eye out for developments as they happen.