One of the simplest ways to get your feet wet in the Web 2.0 world, is through the use of social bookmarks, such as del.icio.us, furl or backflip; once you realize how easy it is to get involved, you can then ease your way into the other "social participation" tools like wikis and blogs. Could the same hold true for introducing these concepts into the Enterprise?
del.icio.us for the Enterprise
A new service from Cogenz, Ltd. is aimed at this nascent market. London-based Cogenz is launching it's new Enterprise 2.0 social bookmarking service. The Cogenz solution, described concisely as " del.icio.us for the Enterprise", is a hosted subscription service that's available in three flavors: Team, Workgroup and Enterprise.
I played with the demo available on the Cogenz web site. The service closely follows the del.icio.us model, complete with browser buttons and tagging; existing users of social bookmarking services will find it a snap to start using this new service (indeed, it even allows for integration with del.icio.us). Additional capabilities include private bookmarks, search features and RSS/email subscriptions.
One feature I would love to see in the future is a mechanism to find out more about a user who has bookmarked items for a particular tag. Unlike del.icio.us, whose semi-anonymous nature and minimalist registration is one of its biggest features, I think within the Enterprise, it is both acceptable and important to provide some context about the user - e.g. when looking for users interested in a particular topic, it is quite valuable to understand what department the user belongs to, what her geographical location is, whether she is on-site or at a customer location, and so on.
The similarity of features with public social bookmarking services is certain to be a tremendous advantage for Cogenz in terms of ease of user adoption; in the long term, however, I imagine that more sophisticated features can be added that meet the needs of power users within the Enterprise.
In any case, this type of service can provide tremendous benefits to an organization. It provides an immediate impact on personal productivity, by enabling employees or teams to save, organize and retrieve bookmarks in a systematic fashion - as the amount of information on the Web explodes, this is a critical capability in and of itself.
In addition, though, there are the network benefits - an ability to aggregate what others within your team, department and company find interesting and make it visible in a loosely organized fashion. A strong focus on social bookmarking with tagging, is a great enabler for discovering information of interest, building up communities and finding experts on a given topic, within an enterprise. As a collection of independent actions, social bookmarking offers an effective way to gather collective intelligence without any of the issues that are usually associated with a team (groupthink) or a mob (irrational behavior).
Cogenz seems to be targeting a slightly different problem and target market than others in the world of Emergence Software. As a quick round-up:
- Trampoline Systems (with its recent funding ) targets social analysis and collaboration
- Atlassian and Socialtext focus on Wikis for the Enterprise
- Blogtronix focuses on internal blogging
- Teqlo, Coghead et al focus on mashups
- itensil targets process management
Cogenz's solution, instead, attacks Enterprise 2.0 from another dimension by focusing exclusively on social bookmarks. ConnectBeam is in a similar space, but seems to be targeted at a different market segment, that of a large-scale enterprise that is looking for a "hardware applicance"-type solution.
Overall, Cogenz seems to be a powerful solution targeted at a specific, fairly narrow space. I have no doubt that it will prove valuable to mid-sized (and smaller) organizations trying to dip their toes into the E2.0 space. Larger organizations will probably look for a "heavier" solution, where social bookmarks are integrated into a more comprehensive social-emergence offering.