Lisa Hoover 0 Junior Poster

MindTouch announced today at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) that a new version of its collaboration app MindTouch Deki "Kilen Woods" is ready for its close-up. Though it seems lately like you can't swing a cat (not that I would) without bumping into a new collaboration tool or suite of applications for the enterprise, you know you've got a good product on your hands when the folks at Mozilla use it.

In addition to MindTouch Deki's collaborative capabilities, its also billed as a "collective intelligence platform." Deki is clearly a useful way to keep information flowing among employees, but its strong point is the new integration with assorted systems and web services like Microsoft Access, Salesforce, LinkedIn, SugarCRM, and WordPress.

MindTouch's co-founder and CEO, Aaron Fulkerson says, "With the addition of these adapters and existing extensions to over 100 web services, users can surface data and behavior from these applications, create basic workflow, mashups, dynamic reports and dashboards. This allows for a collaborative macro-view of multiple systems in a common wiki-like interface."

I've read about, reported on, and used plenty of enterprise-edition tools over the last several years -- wikis, content management systems, databases, customer tracking and business intelligence systems, email clients, accounting applications, and so on. Many of them are wonderful products in their own right, but they often have one thing in common: they're very singular. That is, they address a specific need or provide a targeted solution, but data and output can't often be mind across applications in a useful way. Put into practice, what MindTouch Deki offers is a way to access all that random data you have spread across applications and ties it all together in ways that mean something to your company's bottom line.

For instance, if you store customer contact information in one database, sales records in another, and client / salesperson data in another, now you can access all the information in one place, see how it fits together, and decide what to do next. If data charts the course of your company, MindTouch Deki is the rudder.

Mapping out sales goals for the next quarter? Pull up a report from one application on which region of the country buys the most red widgets, snag a list of all recent customers from another app, then find out who the sales team is from yet a third app. All without loading applications, switching between windows, or trying to remember which application holds which info.

Got a lead on a new customer? Use MindTouch Deki to research the customer's business, start a contact file, assign a salesperson to the account, and add the company's CEO to your LinkedIn database -- all on one page.

Obviously, MindTouch Deki can be useful in all sorts of enterprise environments, not just retail outfits. Fulkerson often calls Deki the "connective tissue" that binds together several disparate systems within a company. As one vendor after another develops the "perfect" solution for helping companies access an ever-increasing amount of data, it's great to see a product that ties all the information together in one place.

Now, why didn't I think of that?