The problem with most of the products that have been developed to help end users collaborate is that most of them started from one particular aspect of collaboration and then branched out. As a result, we see a lot of collaboration products that tend to emphasize one aspect of collaboration, such as messaging, while only providing tangential support for an actual collaboration application.
That's why it's interesting to see a new Catalyst offering from MindJet that is an actual Web-based collaboration application in that it visually keeps track of workflow processes, while also providing a framework for managing documents associated with any given workflow process.
This is significant because it allows an end user to easily navigate a given process to not only find what they need, but also become aware of what other people are working on related to any given project. In effect, Mindjet has integrated the task of not only managing the projects, but also managing the documents. On top of that, Catalyst also includes integrated Web conferencing and instant messaging tools for a grand total of $25 per user per month.
One of the reasons that collaboration is so difficult is that in order to bring everything together in a manageable way, IT organizations have to spend an inordinate amount of time first integrating about a dozen technologies with about a half-dozen applications. Then they have to support all the custom integration on an ongoing basis. Catalyst short circuits a lot of that work by first providing collaboration as a cloud computing service, and then integrating all the required disparate components.
Right now, there are a lot of big-name companies, including IBM, Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft and Google, all circling the online collaboration space. The question is how many of them are building a real end-to-end collaboration platform?