As a follow up to my post on Connectbeam, Chuck Pendell VP of Sales and Puneet Gupta CEO and Founder of Connectbeam spent some time showing me their product in more detail.
They are positioning the product as a social software application for information access and discovery. The goal is to provide good content by adding attributes to make the information more useful. It ends up being a blend of del.icio.us, Facebook and LinkedIn within the enterprise.
The Connectbeam appliance combines social bookmarking with social networking. It uses bookmarking as a proxy for expertise and information interest. So if I have a bunch of bookmarks on "knowledge management," I presumably have some expertise in knowledge management or at least have some interest in knowledge management. The product is an appliance so it should be easy to deploy and setup. It allows each user to import bookmarks from del.icio.us or a web browser. When you add a bookmark, you can decide to make it open, publish it to an open community, publish it to a restricted community or keep it private. They provide a toolbar with the button to create the bookmark and add the tags.
They also allow an integration into an internet and/or intranet search. Then the tagging from Connectbeam is combined with the search results. In the demo they used their Google appliance search, combining intranet and internet web search into a single result set. The bookmarked websites with the tags that matched the search terms were presented first in the search results, pushing those sites that were bookmarked the most to the top of the search results.
The community aspect of Connectbeam allows you to create ad hoc communities that are either open or restricted. I could create a community for my knowledge management team and publish bookmarks to that community. I could keep the community open so that anyone in firm interested in knowledge management could see the bookmarks published to that community. Or I could keep it restricted so that only certain invited people could join the community and see that community of bookmarks and their tags.
Connectbeam associates each person's bookmarks and communities and produces a user profile based on that information. I really like the concept of the tagging information being added into the profile for a person.
I see a tremendous value in adding the bookmarks and tags to enhance search results. It is a great way to cull out good content. If someone went through the trouble of bookmarking and tagging a site, it has some higher value for them. By combining multiple users bookmarks and tags, the better content bubbles to the top of the search results. In return, each person has a catalog of their bookmarks to browse and search through.
With Connectbeam the bookmarking and tagging enhance the findability of information used by the enterprise and the findability of expertise within the enterprise.
The weakness of the Connectbeam system is that it relies on bookmarking. Therefore you need a discoverable, unique URL to create the bookmark. For my firm, that ends up leaving out our document management system. Without being able to pull in documents it ends up not being a good solution for my firm. Maybe they can create an integration with Interwoven, but in the meantime the value proposition for Connectbeam is less apparent for my firm.