Archive for the ‘SMB’ Category

SalesWorks – Desktop2.0 CRM app for SMBs

February 5, 2007

Last week MissionResearch launched their second core product, SalesWorks, which is a desktop based personal CRM suite. Desktop app in Web20 times? Strangely yes. While the early adopter crowd loathes desktop apps, Charlie Crystle at Mission Research is placing his bets on the plain old desktop. Don’t get Charlie wrong. After having sold Chili!Soft for $70 million in 2000 to Cobalt Networks, Charlie joined the Lancaster, PA based MissionResearch as CEO and launched GiftWorks in 2003. The desktop based fundraising software, priced at $299, has been doing pretty well in the market with more than 4500 customers. a

Motivated with this success, MissionResearch comes looking for individual and SMBs user and make the daily sales life easier. Their new product SalesWorks has very targeted set of features aimed at SMBs – ability to create contacts, record sales, action calendar, smartlists, mailing integration, and reporting. After quick run down of the feature set you would realize that the interface is pretty intuitive making it easier for users to learn using the software without going through a 1000 page handbook.

Initial release of SalesWorks works for teams of up to 10 people. Put the SalesWorks database on your LAN and your team is set to share. For future releases, the product is expected to scale up to 100s of users and support Microsoft SQL Server for the database backend. SalesWorks has already done and has plans to do number of integrations with webservices to generate mashups and reuse of user data. Virtual Earth mashup, and ability to post transactions to Inuit Quickbooks are just couple of them in place.

As for pricing of SalesWorks from the startup that gives 20% of its revenue to charity – a base version for free, and a full-featured version for still to be decided price. So, as long as majority of users are hooked up to using their PCs and Macs, and want data on their disk – not Google or Salesforce – there will always be space for newer offerings.

Note: No download link for now since MissionResearch is working on rolling out public beta version

Download Link

Links:
MissionResearch

 

Cognos, BusinessObjects scramble for SaaS BI. Really?

January 18, 2007

Recently there has been lot of stir in the Enterprise software market related to SaaS, which has forced enterprise vendors make acquisitions of smaller SaaS players, or so as they call themselves. Last month Business Objects acquired NSite and yesterday Cognos went ahead and bought privately held Celequest. Lets look at both the acquisitions closely.

Celequest is basically a real-time information monitoring solution that provides real-time operational dashboards. Celequest gains traction more on the Fortune 500 companies side who might want to get up-to date analytics of their business. Coming to the real point, Cognos news release claims:

Celequest is the industry’s only dashboarding solution to be offered as an appliance or via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model

I am not sure since when putting a software on an appliance qualified it to be a SaaS service. Appliance located either on the client location or on Cognos data center doesn’t mean that the application itself becomes an On-Demand offering.

Coming to BusinessObjects acquisition of NSite- NSite basically is a transaction oriented platform or as they say an On demand, self service Quote, Proposal and Channel Management solutions. Following is an excerpt from the BO press release:

………the world’s leading provider of business intelligence (BI) solutions, today announced it has acquired NSite Software, Inc., a Sunnyvale, California-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. The acquisition gives Business Objects access to NSite’s on-demand application platform; engineering talent experienced in building and managing SaaS offerings; and approximately 27,000 current NSite subscribers.

 Agreed that NSite does offer SaaS kind of service, but  I am not sure how BusinessObjects core BI/Reporting products align with NSite platform which in other words enables SMBs to build forms-based applications. BO getting access to NSite’s 27,000 customers is great idea, but what will BO do with them. Try selling them client-server based CrystalReports?

On-Demand and SaaS means an easy to use product(mostly web-based), very clear product matrix, a well defined pricing strategy that offers considerable savings compared to existing products, and a fully hosted solution where client doesn’t even have to think about storage, maintenance, and upgrades. Looking at companies like Cognos, BO, Informatica, Hyperion,… they are far off from the On-Demand path. Even if they do come up with some kind of SaaS capabilities, it is going to be really-really tough for these enterprise vendors to kill their existing revenue streams based on long-term licensing whose price was never justified in first place. Days of pulling off million dollar half-baked product sales deal are going to be over pretty soon. On web where prices are very flexible and it costs a fraction to try out new products, customers will stay only if the product delivers real ROI. Also confusing customers by branding non-SaaS solutions as SaaS is never going to work in the long run.

 

8 startups to watch-out for in 2007

January 8, 2007

                
               

          

                                        

One week into 2007, lets look into some of most exciting startups coming up in the new year. The companies I have chosen to write about are mainly in the enterprise, consumer and productivity software, and media publishing market. There are quite a few other interesting startups coming up in the areas of media(social networking, IPTV, mobile TV, 3D), which I will try covering in another post.

 

1. Coghead(Enterprise): Coghead is set to change the way most common business applications are developed. Working with Coghead, all you need to know is your business and you are ready to rollout applications without even writing a single line of code. Coghead provides a web-based platform with complete drag-n-drop, mapping, workflow, and other development features to enable delivery of applications that require zero infrastructure setup costs on your side.

Founded in May 2003, Coghead had received $3.2 million in first round financing from El Dorado Ventures in March 2006. The Redwood City, CA. based startup has some of the finest industry veterans working for it including Paul McNamara(CEO, Coghead), Greg Olsen(served as co-founded Extricity Inc.), and Brian Reaves(served as Co-Founder and President/CEO of Beyond Software).

I had demo session with Paul, and Greg in where they demonstrated the amazing platform they have built. Companies looking to get started with Coghead will have access to around dozen pre-built applications offered by Coghead covering various business domains including HR, Project Management, Tracking Tools, Marketing, Finance, Sales & Customer Management, and Productivity. Comparing to existing application development and delivery methodology, Coghead platform changes the way in which we look at Application Development/Developers. Actually Application Developer term can easily be replaced by Application Modeler since those are the people you need in Coghead. Once application specifications are agreed upon, Modelers can quickly prototype and build applications using the Coghead’s fully graphical environment with drag-n-drop UI components and forms editor. Modelers can start from scratch or copy an existing application to add more functionality. Prior to deploying a new application or changes to an existing application, prototypes can be created, tested and previewed. Among other features, Coghead maintains complete application version control, and also handles import/export of application definition. Companies using the platform can have team-based access with role-based security model to enhance the data security and restrict access across different applications.

Coghead will launch Q1 of 2007 and will be available at fraction of cost as charged by existing On-Demand platforms like Salesforce. Starting of from the basic set of applications it is left onto business users imagination to churn out applications requiring zero maintenance and backups.

So if you always unsatisfied by one of the monstrous Project Management or CRM tools offered by your company and wanted to drive things your own way, Coghead should serve your needs well.

             

             

 

2. LucidEra(Enterprise): I have written about LucidEra couple of times in the past. LucidEra is led by Ken Rudin who previously worked as VP and General Manager of Siebel CRM OnDemand at Siebel Systems and before that was co-founder and CEO of Emergent Corp which was acquired by Keane in 1999. Given his strong experience in building enterprise class product and recognizing the shortcomings of existing BI offerings, Ken founded LucidEra in 2004 with an aim to deliver an On-Demand BI platform. With handful of really smart people taken from Siebel, Business Objects, Informatica, Apple, and  $7 million funding from Matrix Partners and Benchmark Capital, LucidEra is set to bring a sea change to the Enterprise data computing landscape.

Currently in private beta and going for a public release in Q1 2007, LucidEra’s Business Intelligence is platform will deliver full range of data extraction, transformation, and reporting abilities. From the product standpoint, LucidEra offers connectors to databases, extraction+transformation+refresh tool to load data into LucidDB(optimized for query processing), data cleansing capabilities, OLAP server, and the web-based reporting interface to enable easy creation of business reports. All these high end enterprise data processing  capabilities come at a fraction of cost($3000 or more/month) as compared to existing solutions in the market.

The impact of LucidEra will go beyond pricing, since it will reduce the cost associated with development, maintenance, storage, computing, and upgrading of enterprise software. LucidEra will offer a great opportunity to SMBs to run competitive analysis of their businesses and get to their sales and marketing KPIs quicker. Starting off with Forecast-to-Billing solution that can track a company’s entire sales cycle, I expect LucidEra to open up it’s environment to enable developers to build similar solutions for Marketing, Life Sciences, and other business domains.


3.
BungeeLabs(Enterprise+Mashup): The Orem, UT based Bungeelabs team has been quietly working on building a web application and deployment system for the past 3 years. Till date Bungeelabs has gone through two rounds of funding with the most recent round in November 2006 in which the company secured $7 million from North Bridge Venture Partners, Venrock Associates, and Wasatch Venture Fund.

The startup has been keeping most the details of its offering under tights wraps and even their web site doesn’t help much in this regards. Bungee will offer an On-demand Application System for efficiently creating and instantly delivering next generation web applica
tions. Developers will be able to able build, integrate, and instantly deploy interactive web apps with or without any web service. As part of the deployment Bungee developers will be able to integrate customer tracking, subscription management, licensing and billing options.

Although there might be a learning curve involved to get used to Bungee lingo, objects, logic, adaptors, controls, and deployment methods, I think it would be worth the tiny amount of effort required. Will look forward to try my hands when it officially launches its product sometime this year.

 

4. Sharpcast Hummingbird(Consumer+Enterprise): Earlier at the start of 2006 Sharpcast had launched its amazing photo synchronization software that can sync all your photos located on any of your internet enabled devices. Later at the Web20 conference in November 2006, Sharpcast had announced the launch of their new product Hummingbird in early Q2 of 2007. Hummingbird solves one of the basic problems that each of us face every day – multitude of files created in different formats on different machines owned by the same user. With increasing amount of content getting created through mobile devices, it just adds to the existing issue of getting your content to sync together. Building and running an enterprise class sync server that offers PC-Mac-Web-Mobile real-time synchronization for general users is quite a challenge that not many companies have tried till today.

Hummingbird will work just like Microsoft Exchange server that delivers/updates-status all your messages onto various platforms including web, PC, and Blackberry. Instead of syncing emails, Hummingbird will do that for each of your file formats. Users will neither have to worry about taking backups and spending hours compiling the latest version of their documents nor manually schedule backups since everything gets backed up automatically. Hummingbird will also offer version control  and notifications if any document is accessed by more than 1 person simultaneously. To take care of the offline times, Hummingbird will have workspace cache to enable work in offline mode. Sharpcast will also add sharing aspect to the  software by enabling sharing of files with groups of individuals and creation of group workspaces. Sharpcast will also offer Hummingbird to its partners who can run the software in a p2p mode and also enable companies to store all their data on their own enterprise servers instead of Sharpcast’s servers.

Again Hummingbird falls into the first school of thought which believes in desktop based file creation and sharing. Other school comprises of SaaS proponents who use Writely+Editgrid in their everyday life to get their work done faster without worrying about sync issues. So users looking to go beyond word and spreadsheets and get their videos, photos, PDFs organized, Hummingbird is the best thing that can happen.

                     

 

5. Preezo(Consumer+Office): Startups developing real Office20(Word, Spreadsheet, PPT, Calendar) showed lot of activity with the launch of Writely, iRows, Kiko, EditGrid, Thumbstacks and few more in the end of 2005 and start of 2006. However the office20 landscape at the start of 2007 looks very different as compared before ’cause of – quick and decisive actions from Google resulting in Google Docs&Spreadsheets+Calendar being rolled out, iRows and Writely teams joining Google, Kiko getting sold out on eBay, Thumbstacks team just keeping quite ever since its initial launch activity. Only worthy Office20 player besides Google is EditGrid. But Google and EditGrid don’t complete the office stack with an important presentation software piece missing. In recent times there have been few startups claiming to offer web-Powerpoint solution, but frankly I feel that they are just wasting their time by developing really crappy imitations. Throwing an army of people ain’t going to get you a Powerpoint or Excel or Word replicas. Smalls teams like Writely, EditGrid, and iRows, that understand the specs for office apps and have expertise in javascript as well as server side languages are the ones who can get things done.

However hopes are still on for the web-based office. Preezo, an angel funded company led by by Jason Roberts, is trying to fill that important gap. Based out of Pasadena, CA, Jason has built Preezo from just an idea to a full-featured web-based slideshow/presentation application in just over a year. Preezo offers many of the core and most commonly used features found in Powerpoint. Preezo with its elegant drag & drop and formatting of text and image elements makes editing slides a snap. With support for themes, layouts, and transitions(including control of direction and speed of transition), you can easily create professional looking presentations. Preezo also has an custom built javascript text editor (no design mode!!) takes text editing to a level never before seen on the web and will be practicably indistinguishable from Powerpoint’s text editing experience.

You will realize the real benefits of using Preezo as compared to Microsoft Powerpoint at the time of viewing and sharing the slideshows. Besides being able to access the presentations from any modern browser (FF 1.05, IE 6.0, SF 1.5) anytime, you will be able to embed the slide shows in web pages or blogs, distribute high quality but lightweight html slide shows via email, and give multiple people the ability to access a single presentation.

With the launch of Preezo there wont be a convincing reason for most of office apps users to go for the costly Microsoft Office 2007 upgrade($150-$400 depending on the version).

 

6. Sentinel(Consumer+Media): This month end Sentinel will launch something that should definitely catch on with media companies and blogging community – Detect content piracy and pin-point sploggers. The Orlando, Florida based startup led by Tony Moura and just 2 more people plans to deliver a solution about which most of the search companies don’t even talk about. Any search we run on Technorati or Google Blog Search or Sphere number of results we get back just point to spam blogs. The small guy makes big+quick bucks through his content piracy network spanning thousands of blogs and sites, while we as content creators end up working late nights. And this content piracy is not just limited to blogosphere. Major media companies like Dow Jones, and NYT would just love to try out Sentinel.

Once companies signup, Sentinel service will automatically start comparing your content with the sites all over the world and generate the reports. Initially it will take around 24 hours to compile reports, but over time as Sentinel indexes more content the turn around times would improve drastically. Sentinel plans to work on 3 levels – 1. Bloggers 2. Media companies like Dow Jones, NYT, CNN and 3. Blog network operators and search engines like Blogger/Google, WordPress, and SixApart. Each ca
tegory will differ in terms of licensing costs and turn around times for the reports. However the service will be very reasonably priced for individual bloggers and content creators costing $5/month or more depending on the number of blogs/sites monitored. When I talked with Tony few months back he told me that he best part about Sentinel will be that content creators and site owners will not have to install any software or plugin in order to get monitor their content.

From the technology perspective Sentinel will have to cover a wide range issues that they can potentially come across. False piracy claims, legitimate quoting of text,  pirated  content  hosted on  personal sites instead of blog networks(whom will you send take-down notice to?), rephrased content, and offcourse  spammers trying to trick Sentinel  system everyday. Tony claims that Sentinel has the ground covered in all these aspects. But the system and it’s scalability+safeguards will definitely be tested when it launches this month.

One thing you need to note though is that Sentinel performs checks for only text based content, and not audio or video. Attributor and Youtube have been working on those areas which are obviously very difficult to crack in terms of resources and computing power required to drive such a solution and returns that they will receive from the media companies.

 

7. Clearspring(Consumer+Media): Remember, 2007 is the year of Widgets?! That is great news!!…. But what is the business model? How do you distribute more than just the weather widget? How do you reach your target community? How do you track the usage? Many more questions that no one can answer with clarity. Clearspring is building up to solve just some of these issues. Based out of Arlington, VA, led by Christopher Marentis, and founded by Hooman Radfar and Austin Fath, Clearspring aims to give direction to the rudderless world of widgets.

Clearspring is leading the charge to enable widget creators to quickly publish cross-platform widgets.  Clearspring has worked really hard behind-the-scenes to develop relationships with the leading social networks, startpages, and other websites to enable their widgets to be transported across sites by users, as well as well as to be published to widget galleries by developers. This includes likes of Rockyou and Netvibes.

From the process perspective, developers send in their flash widget code and Clearspring will add the wrapper for automatic posting to gadget platforms on Google, Live.com, Vista, MySpace, WordPress, Netvibes, Rockyou,………For individual developers this service would be free, and larger media companies will chalk out their deals with Clearspring that would include additional control over the environment. Developers and media/content companies also get complete view of the spread and usage of their content. Among others stats, widget impressions, style, location are some of the metrics tracked by Clearspring. This targeted and monitored distribution can result in viral spread of content through the right audience and enable narrowing down on those viral hubs quicker. Having tracked around 100 million widget impressions in its private beta, Clearspring has a scalable backend to take on enormous loads as major media companies start off loading their content through the platform. Clearspring plans to iteratively roll-out more advanced capabilities to expose the rich data collected by their tracking engine such as widget lifetime, click-through, and more during the coming year.

And not to forget- I am pretty sure you will just love the flash interface of the widgets from Clearspring.

    

 

8. Teqlo(Consumer+Mashup): Teqlo aims to bring meaningful mashup capabilities to the general users. Want to hookup you calendar with your expense reporting software to make it easier for you to get done with work quickly? Or automatically pull data from your address book and plot  it onto a map? Well Teqlo can help you  perform those important data mappings that will make your content “modular” without putting in those long-hard hours of manually copy-pasting information. Teqlo users with its drag-n-drop tool can build “Teqlets” that can bring in application components, and put them in the right sequence to establish a data flow cross-applications. Users will be able to public/private/group permission based teqlets, and license these teqlets to other users.

Founded by Dr. Rafael Bracho and Jacoby Thwaites and initially named Abgenial Systems, late last year the startup changed its name to Teqlo. Teqlo is now led by Jeff Nolan, who previously led the Apollo Strategy Group for SAP, and is funded by Leapfrog Ventures.

 

ClearSpace – The unified collaboration platform

January 2, 2007

JiveSoftware, provider of open-architecture based collaboration production, will be launching a new unified collaboration platform, ClearSpace. The product, which officially launches in early February, provides gives the power of Wikis, Blogs, Discussion Boards, and IM, all in one place.

Jive’s existing J2EE based product line includes Jive Forums, RTC server based on XMPP protocol – Wildfire, XMPP instant messaging client- Spark, Customer Chat client – Spark Fastpath, and Integrated Server. After having discussions with number of its existing customers, Jive management realized that companies wanted to implement newer collaboration tools but were more interested in J2EE base. Also implementing point solutions likes Wiki, or Blogs would only drive the maintenance cost up with additional inability to move data across each of these independent applications.

Realizing the opportunity, Jive team went ahead and built ClearSpace as an integrated platform that encompasses the old and new collaboration domains – Wiki, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Document Store, Email notifications, nested chat/IM, User Management, LDAP/AD integration, and tagging. Companies using ClearSpace will easily be able to setup collaboration community for each of their hierarchical departments or cross-team projects. In ClearSpace, each community can have its own discussion board, document store, access control,……. with everything tied together with tags and tag groups.

Jive team has gone a step further to enable reuse of user generated content/data, and faster response+interaction to content changes. ClearSpace users will be able to convert community discussion to a wiki document(instead of regular copy-paste), export group chat to wiki documents, create respond to content via email or IM, get notified about content updates by RSS/email/IM, email or instant messages for document collaborate invites, and participate in real-time multi-people wiki editing and viewing session. Companies will also be able to turn on collaboration with external clients on content located on internal ClearSpace server. Integration with WebDAV is another nice feature that will enable easy browsing, and emailing of docs located in ClearSpace.

Best part I like about ClearSpace is its pricing. ClearSpace is planned to be free for companies with 5 people, priced at high $20 or low $30s/user/monthyear, making it an extremely affordable collaboration platform for small or large teams.

Looking at the existing collaboration solutions, ClearSpace makes it very easy to gauge performance of team members with the ability to pull up all the information and content related to a particular team member. Also the reuse of content makes sure teams don’t end up creating redundant data silos and migration of projects from development to production stage does not result in loss of important lessons learnt on the way. On the whole, ClearSpace does seem to shaping up as the integrated tool that lot of the teams will be looking to get their hands on.

Links:
ClearSpace

Koral launches desktop beta and upgrades

December 26, 2006

Koral, the Enterprise20 Content Management startup about which I had written few months back, has added a bunch of features that makes it one of the best SMB apps along with EchoSign to emerge this year. Besides the new features, Koral has has upgraded its hardware that made the on-Demand application really fast responsive, which is nice change from what I had experienced when I tried it for the first time when it was in the real beta stage.

Koral Desktop, the newly released desktop uploader has the task of uploading files simpler. Once you are done with updating your document, all you need to is drag-drop the updated file into the java desktop app, and Koral automatically updates the file on the server. Koral’s “document identification” alerts the rest of the people with whom the document is shared about the availability of the updated version either through their subscription mechanism or when they try editing the outdated copy.

Other changes at Koral include an upgraded search functionality that enables filtering of results by the document type(Word, ppt,….), tag, authors, wordspace,…… Koral user-administration module also has been upgraded to enable linked-in style of user management and change/modify users and their access to workspaces.

My favorite feature still remains the ability to view powerpoint slideshows on Koral web-app itself instead of downloading them and realizing that you are editing the wrong document. Being able to view word and xls snapshots is also in the works, that should see light of the day pretty soon.

Links:
Koral

LucidEra set to rock Business Intelligence market

November 13, 2006

 
LucidEra, the On-Demand  Business Intelligence platform provider will officially come out of stealth mode on 15th November. Ken Rudin, CEO, LucidEra will be speaking at a teleconference hosted by Credit Suisse detailing the vision of LucidEra and announcement of the upcoming launch. LucidEra will be launching its beta in December and the official release will be coming sometime in January 2007. In my talk with Ken Rudin, he mentioned that they have already been talking with number of potential customers who are interested in participating in the beta program starting next month.

LucidEra product is squarely targeted at mid-sized companies having 1000 or fewer employees and who don’t have the expertise to run a full scale analytics application to get better insights into their business. Using the pre-built Forecast-to-billing application provided by LucidEra, customers will be able to analyze their sales data and get better understanding about their customers, partners, and competitors. LucidEra will also enable customers to analyze cash flow, booked revenue by industry, loan debt effectiveness, sales team performance, product performance, and changes in these metrics over time among other analytics.

As part of future plans after the launch, LucidEra will work on building 360 degree customer view application that will provide holistic view of customers. LucidEra will also work on providing pre-built application for Marketing analytics that will enable detailed analysis of customer segmentation, lead analysis and various other measures. LucidEra will be opening up it’s API sometime late next year to enable external providers to build applications.

Related:
LucidEra to launch On-Demand Analytics

Links:
LucidEra

LucidEra to launch On-Demand Analytics

October 12, 2006

LucidEra

Ever since the launch of Salesforce.com in 1999, opportunity has been there for a company to build and provide an On-Demand Business Intelligence platform. As in the CRM market, Small and Medium size businesses(SMB) need an low-cost, low/no-maintenance On-Demand BI platform. Till now most of them were forced to opt for commercial Business Intelligence products which are prohibitively expensive. Companies opting for an in-house analytics need to purchase COTS products like Informatica, Cognos, Business Objects, Trillium that have a combined price tag of $700k +. Besides the software companies also need to spend on development, maintenance of these analytic applications, which soon goes out of their budget. In most of the cases, SMBs end up using Excel/Access for business reporting.

LucidEra team has been smart enough to recognize the issues being faced by SMBs and have developed a complete stack of web-based On-Demand Business Intelligence product. Businesses can now pull their data into LucidEra system and instantly run their analytic reports at a fraction of price. LucidEra, a team of around 30 people is located in San Mateo, CA and is lead by Ken Rudin. LucidEra team includes people from major BI companies like Oracle, Siebel, Business Objects, Informatica, Salesforce.com, BEA, and Informix. LucidEra had raised $7 million in Series A round of funding from Matrix Partners and Benchmark Capital.

LucidEra provides a set of pre-built reports and dashboards to enable customers get a quick view of their business metrics. Customers can also create their own reports using a simple and easy to use web-based interface. As for sourcing of data, LucidEra can fetch data from Salesforce.com, Oracle ERP, Netsuite, spreadsheets, and from databases using JDBC connectors. Ken Rudin showed me the demo of LucidEra reporting module and i will say that it is one of the best reporting UI i have come across. Business managers can quickly slice, dice, drill their data, and instantly view reports using the ajax based interface to get better insights of their business. 

Since LucidEra is targeting SMBs, they have optimized their data to easily handle few giga bytes of data loads without any performance loss. Off course all the data will be sent and received over an encrypted network and companies will have the ability to export their data into excel format. LucidEra has built the product with Unicode support which will help in its expansion into international markets.

LucidEra will be launching the beta of its ambitious product in the 2nd week of November and i feel that lot of companies will be interested in what LucidEra has to offer. This launch will include the Forecast-to-Billing prebuilt application that will enable companies to have an “unified view of their customers as they go through the process from opportunity, to order, to cash collection”. Using Forecast-to-Billing app companies will be able to capture their sales, booking, billing, and backlog performance metrics all in one place.

Just like Salesforce.com, companies can use LucidEra on per month basis which will include standard tech support and gold level support being available for an extra charge. LucidEra’s pricing will be around $3K per month which will include the Forecast-to-Billing prebuilt analytic application, 5GB of storage, prebuilt connectors to common source systems which automatically extract the latest changes to customer data every day, and built-in capabilities to remove duplicate data and automatically match up things like customer names across your systems (even though the names may be spelled differently in different systems.)  Package will also include the first five users for free. LucidEra team will also offer trial accounts sometime in future. 

Personally i feel LucidEra has developed an extraordinary product which involves high level of technical complexity(ETL, BI, Data Cleansing) as well as business knowledge. Any competitor will have tough time catching up with LucidEra.

Links:
LucidEra

LucidEra - Forecast-to-Billing
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Koral – Enterprise2.0 Content Management

October 2, 2006

Koral launched its business content management system focused at Small to Medium businesses at DEMOfall. Koral is one the first movers into Enterprise2.0 space and will offer storage, sharing, and sync facilities for business content. Koral has been developed by BuildOnline which develops On Demand document management and collaboration solutions and has offices in 7 countries. Koral is headed by Mark Suster and its development team is located in US and UK.

Koral has done a great job by giving a fresh outlook to enterprise CMS. They developed some really nice and much needed features that were not present in the Enterprise products like Documentum or FileNet. To start with, Koral does not have a folder based structure, which is instead replaced by a Tag based classification (yes, they have a tag cloud). When user uploads a file, the content is only visible to the user which can than be published to private areas called workspace. These workspaces can be accessed by groups of people who can than subscribe (via RSS/Email) to documents contained within. Users are alerted whenever any of their subscribed-to documents get updated. Users can also subscribe to topics or even authors to get updated whenever they publish/update a document. To promote interaction and feedback, Koral enables rating and commenting of workspace documents.

Off course Koral intelligently replaces the old version with the newer version while maintaining the document version history. Koral has also developed a document search which provides results based on relevance, popularity, and contribution dates. To save time on document downloads, users can pre-view Microsoft PowerPoint files online (Word and Excel support is coming). Koral has an intelligent feature where it notifies its users when they open a document on their laptop for which a newer version has been uploaded. Koral also makes PowerPoint updates easier. If users update a slide of a PowerPoint presentation, Koral can tell which presentations have a copy of the slide so that the all files can be updated at the same time.

It took 18 months for the Koral team to develop this application. In my talk with Mark Suster he mentioned that his team of 8 people spent lot time figuring out the right mix of technologies to provide a scalable and secure application. Currently, Koral is ready with its Salesforce integration, and is also working on integrating with Amazon S3 and Google Base for required modules. Koral will also provide a desktop monitor so that users can be notified about newer versions of their subscribed documents. Desktop client will also provide drag-drop interface and tagging of file uploads.

Personally I was never a big fan of Enterprise CMS which are no more than behemoth file stores with an even bigger price and maintenance tag. Koral does make document sharing easier with its subscription model. Also Koral is a hosted service so you don’t really need to worry about installation and maintenance. Pricing is very aggressive which will cost nothing for individual users, but if the companies want to lock down environment there will be a charge of $9/month/user to $60/month/user depending on the options they choose(like Document Workflow, Salesforce integration). Still, Koral is paradigm shifts of sorts in Enterprise CMS that has seen some consolidation lately.

Links:
Koral
BuildOnline

Koral

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