Mindjet "socialises" collaborative work management with Mindjet Connect and Cohuman
A couple of days ago I had an update call with Mindjet, the company that is best known for its mind mapping client application, Mind Manager. Historically, I’ve always found it slightly awkward to position the company in the broader collaboration software market that I follow, largely because, while Mind Manager is a productivity tool, it is not (or at least was not) in itself inherently collaborative in terms of the way it was designed to be used – i.e. as a personal productivity tool. However, over the last three years, the company has been trying to find ways to open up its market opportunity, and in doing so, has reached the point where today there is no question about its position as a collaboration software vendor.
One of the key challenges Mindjet has faced is a problem which can be likened to the dilemma Adobe faced with Acrobat several years back – i.e. how to change from being a company that just sells packaged applications to a small number of individuals in a large number of organisations, to a provider of enterprise solutions. In recent years, the company has tried a range of approaches to this problem, beginning with enabling collaborative online editing of mind maps via a SaaS-based service (Mindjet Connect, launched in June 2008), through offering collaboration tools which combine project-based tools with communications tools such as web conferencing and instant messaging, again as a SaaS service (Mindjet Catalyst, launched in October 2009), to identifying ways in which its core visualisation technologies could be applied in different contexts (Deal Navigator for Salesforce.com, launched in March 2010).
The latest product announcements (which were made back in September 2011) position its current portfolio as a “collaborative work management” solution which provides a platform where teams can capture ideas, organise information, plan necessary activities, and action these in a tracked and managed way. The key products within this are:
- the new-and-improved Mindjet Connect, which combines the collaborative editing features of the original Mindjet Connect with the team workspace and document management capabilities of Catalyst, both of which are effectively succeeded by this latest Mindjet Connect release.
- Mindjet Cohuman, which is a social task management application that Mindjet acquired in August 2011. Cohuman applies social tools and techniques to the process of task and project management, for example using an activity feed to enable individuals to track events, actions and conversations which relate to their tasks or projects, or even just those they’re interested in.
Both Connect and Cohuman are delivered as a SaaS-based service, and are available via a “freemium” model, with the paid versions adding features necessary for larger deployments such as extra storage and administrative controls. Today, Mindjet has announced the formal release of Mindjet Connect, along with the first degree of integration between Connect and Cohuman, enabling project tasks to be exported from Connect to Cohuman, and tracked and managed through completion. There is still much to do here though, as Cohuman is still a very distinct product, with a completely different look and feel to Connect.
While this is the most convincing move yet in Mindjet’s efforts to carve out a new place for itself in the enterprise collaboration market, it is still early days, and it remains to be seen whether the company can raise its profile enough to survive the jostling in this crowded market. A key challenge, I think, is whether Mindjet can clearly identify and reach the right audience for this solution; while Mind Manager is a favourite tool of individuals in large, project-heavy enterprises, social collaboration tools such as these tend to favour the non-specialist user. The risk is that Mindjet falls between the two with its latest proposition. Do you use Mind Manager, and if so does this new positioning make sense to you?
I think it’s interesting that there seems to be an emerging trend that’s bringing social to project and task management – I blogged about Salesforce’s efforts with Do.com a week or so ago, plus it’s noticeable that Jive has changed direction somewhat over the last year to reinforce the task management capabilities in its product. And, of course, IBM was there first with Activities in Connections.
Is the emphasis on people and relationships waning in favour of focused, task-based collaboration enhancements? Perhaps because it’s easier to prove ROI in this context?
It would be great to hear your thoughts.