Startups Shaping Productivity through Next-Gen Workspaces

Apr 15, 2014

In recent weeks I've had demos with a number of startup developers who focus on business, user, or process efficiency and productivity. All of them strive to bring together a combination of business, UC and collaboration apps in order to provide users with a unified view of information they need to access quickly within the context of workflows and longer term collaboration events.

In alphabetical order some of these developers include:

Akkadian Labs,  who's MindLink product integrates a text-centric automation app with Cisco Jabber and WebEx to populate visual information to user desktops and mobile devices. It ensures a consistent set of details (i.e. product or customer info), questions or discussion guides are available to sales agents' desktop, for example, in combination with call history and other UC system data. A database is created, with contextual customer account and interaction history automatically available in real-time during conversations. Reports run from it provide user productivity and activity analysis as well as across user group, campaigns and more. Its a bit like CTI, meets contact center, meets CRM and UC.

MindLink builds connectors that bring new collaboration features and value to apps customers have already deployed. Chief among these capabilities are bringing IM and persistent chat to Outlook and SharePoint, essentially populating an additional pane within the interfaces of these apps to birng a multi-party real time collaboraiton element to the experience. Further, MindLink offers the capabilities to pull multiple activity streams (including RSS feeds, social platforms, IM, email and more) into a unified view for web, desktop and mobile interfaces. In my mind, MindLink mashes up IM/presence, activity feeds, and more, with the ability to quickly launch into 1-on-1 or group discussions.   

Uskape aims to connect the disparate tools most professionals use today - including contacts, calendar, committments, content and communications - to create the connected workspace. In oversimplified terms, Uskape puts a dashboard on the desktop that enables users to organize, access and prioritize information and content from multiple sources in a unified way. My crude analogy would be an aggregrated set of activity streams running side-by-side in a single dashboard.

Wrike is somewhat more focused on project management than the other three companies mentioned. Wrike creates a desktop environment to manage numerous different projects and workflows at the same time. It organizes and alerts users of activites taking place within project workflows while streamlining access to tasks, calendar, file sharing, email, and other tools from a single customizable dashboard on a computer, smart phone or tablet. It is supported by an array of reporting capabilities.

Whether or not these solutions will be the long term answer to email's drain on "productivity" remains to be seen, but I do think they are headed in the right direction. The future workspace, and user interface for that workspace, whether desktop or mobile, will be a kind of mashup that organizes and presents the chaos of information from currently siloed tools in more meaningful and manageable ways.

I do not believe many of the tools we use today will go away entirely. Like it or not, email is here to stay in the mainstream of business. However, many organizations are looking to break away from the inefficiencies we have developed behaviorally and culturally with email. While the tools we have today do not go away entirely, they will become (or in the case or email return to be) a more specialized piece of a much wider and more tightly integrated solution set. 

What do you think the next-gen workspace and user interface look like?

Robert Arnold


Sixteen + years of experience in enterprise communications markets. Particular expertise in: Competitive and market intelligence, Market trend analysis and forecasting, Solutions development, marketing, sales and service support strategies.

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