NewsGator also runs in Microsoft’s cloud solution (called Azure) and is offered as a stand-alone or can integrate with their Socialize product. They are also offering a new tool called “Glassboard,” which is a private group messaging and sharing tool. It is lightweight (like Twitter), but is limited to five people in a conversation. It provides a well-integrated mobile experience and allows the sharing of pictures and video, but it is also easily controlled and more secure.

Newsgator Community.jpg
Figure 2 — NewsGator as a community

At its base (Figure 2), NewsGator offers microblogging, communities, activity streams, social insights (analytics and reporting), social profiles, as well as desktop (you can run the desktop client without SharePoint) and email clients.

There are also some optional modules like Idea Stream, which is an ideation module that competes with BrightTalk, Spigit and Imaginatik.

NewsGator Innovation Model.png
Figure 3 — NewsGator Innovation Module

It has fewer features (read bells and whistles) than those products, but claims to have all the core functionality needed (i.e., idea submission, idea collection, custom forms, voting, comment and the ability to promote an individual idea).

They also offer a module called Spotlight which is about expertise location and recognition. It also takes social insights to a deeper level and has a variety of scoring algorithms, does a correlation score on the strength of a term, tag, or key word, but it also uses information on the user’s behavior, as well as from their profile.

Given the success of Zynga on Facebook, NewsGator also does “gamification” by offering a variety of badges. They can be based on configurable rules, and can be show in something like a “leader board” for those that like to get competitive over the number and types of badges they earn. Badges also give people a way to recognize expertise. I believe that systems like this (in the enterprise) will ultimately be part of a person’s performance and drive salary or bonus dollars.

NewsGator was originally a news feed aggregator, and they still do that, but they also have included a Twitter feed as well as an SFDC Chatter feed. They also support lots of different types of video formats, are CODEC agnostic, and are always adding new video players to the mix.

They also have a more extensive mobile strategy than Microsoft, and along with supporting Window 7-8 Mobile they also support Android, Blackberry and iPhone. I did ask about presence detection and some real-time collaboration features. NewsGator does integrate with the Lync server for presence, notifications, chat, etc., allowing you to stay within one context and still make these collaboration changes.

Since NewsGator comes from an aggregation background, they still see the problem most people have as information overload, as well as having all the information you want in one place. They do predictive instead of collaborative filtering to try to deal with some of these issues.

Telligent

Telligent is also an internal enterprise community tool which is like NewsGator, but it does not run on SharePoint. Telligent is also more of a Web 2.0 tool and is more focused on people than content. One of the nice things about Telligent is it allows you to use widgets from Google Gadget or Widgetbox. Although it is a SaaS application, it too supports drag-and-drop, but It does not do any real-time collaboration, and generally needs some IT support in deployment, with the LOB doing the community application. That is also another point of differentiation from NewsGator, which does support real-time interaction, but again through the base Microsoft product Lync.

Telligent Customized Community.jpg

Telligent is about $100/user and also offers some ideation functionality. They also support Android, iPhone, iPad, etc. for their mobile strategy, much like NewsGator. Telligent is also a dot net architecture like NewsGator. But what Telligent has that none of the others do is their widget studio. This allows you to customize your experience and UI to personalize it (see Figure 4).

Telligent also allows you to detect presence through Microsoft Lync, and even though they work with LDAP/AD, they also allow you to integrate with activity streams on Facebook and Twitter.

The Evolution of Conversation

This brings us back to where I started this article — wondering about activity streams and community. What I have realized is that this is not an “if/or” question but rather that vendors — rather than take a chance (or maybe they were asked by their customers) — have started to include activity streams as part of the community. I see this less formal type of collaboration as not new, not exclusive, but as part of the evolution of conversation.

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