by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 16 April 2013
In this Oogwave review we will see how this software can be used as complete platform for content sharing in an enterprise. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
"There is a lot of noise around the word "Collaboration," says Gaurav Jain, a co-founder of Oogwave. That noise, according to Jain, has translated into tools targeted at the extreme ends of the market. As an example, Jain says Yammer, Jive, and Box work for the "Top layer" (or, more lucrative high-end businesses) of the market while solutions such as Asana, Google Apps, and Basecamp, work for the "smaller layer" (or free apps for small businesses). "But, there is nothing for medium-size businesses," says Jain.
Oogwave is targeted at medium-sized businesses (those with an employee count between 25 and 800) interested in evolved collaboration features and functionality. Jain categorizes his solution as a platform for sharing content that their business depends on. It enables static as well as dynamic content sharing. In other words, you can upload files or articles from other websites or media and, also, share content generated by people and teams while working together. In addition, the solution has multiple other features that facilitate collaboration such as discussions, planners, and wall status. Rounding it all off is Oogwave's focus on producing artifacts and conversations at the organization and group levels.
Oogwave integrates a business application ethic with the social network paradigm.
Jain and his business partner started the venture after discovering a gap in the area of business content sharing and collaboration from their previous business. He defines this gap as the gap between emails and business systems within a small business such as ERP, accounting, and CRM. Their solution has had rapid growth in the last 18 months, according to Jain. "We have seen our usage numbers increase on a month-to-month basis with around 5000+ companies using the solution across 60+ countries, giving us confidence to take Oogwave to a larger market," he says.
As I mentioned earlier, Oogwave is a cross between an online social network and collaboration tools. Registration is extremely easy and involves completing a registration screen.
Much like any other social network, Oogwave enables you to build out your network. Thus, you can add coworkers to your network and select competencies, departments, projects and areas of interest.
The main screen borrows the three-paneled look from major social elements. Because the solution is concerned with sharing content across an organization, Oogwave uses hashtags in the form of topics to bind content across a network. "Even though content is enclosed in respective groups, the "hashtags" enable users to get related content across the network for a topic at a single place," says Jain.
Instead of a singular Wall (as is common across most social networks), there are four tabs for collaboration: Wall, Files, Ideas, and Pages. At first glance, the Wall and Ideas concept might not clear. After all, you can always communicate an idea through a status update on The Wall. However, the key difference between the two lies in the fact that ideas can be voted up or down unlike a status update. Other concepts within Oogwave expand on the idea concept. For example, pages can be used to expand on ideas or concepts to enhance collaboration.
Similarly, you can also add or select notes or policies or, even, long articles in Pages.
Oogwave also has strong GROUPS focused workspace. If you look closely in the left panel, below 'My Organization' there are groups. If you click on any of the group, You will see different TABs (only wall and files are common). These different tools (discussion, work-planner and notes) are aligned towards goal oriented productivity in a project team or department. This difference of tools (My Organization vs the Groups) allows for work oriented collaboration on the single platform.
The activity feed is a stream of your network. Thus, it displays status updates, activities in other networks and groups. One of the more interesting aspects of this feed are the usage analytics displayed in a side panel. The analytics display interesting statistics such as Top 5 contributors or Most-praised Co-workers or Content Growth.
In addition, the solution has several, other features to ensure collaboration. For example, you can send messages and reminders to other members in your network. You can also define groups within your network. At the organizational level, this translates into departments in your business. These groups can be private or public and are architected to store artifacts related to that group. You can preview or discuss group files right inside the browser without the need to download them. You can also add notes or share work planners with your team.
Since existing social networks enable users to follow each other (or specific content), I was naturally curious to know whether the team at Oogwave would develop the feature at a later date. "We want you to follow content and not people," says Jain. "So, you will see there are options to make your engagement with content (active or passive" so that system-pushed activity feeds are most relevant to you all the time."
Perhaps, the greatest plus in Oogwave is its preoccupation with discovering ideas. All said and done, Oogwave is an idea discovery platform. It enables businesses and corporations discover the best ideas in their setup and implement them. I also liked the fact that the team at Oogwave has borrowed and integrated the most popular elements from social networks. In addition to drastically reducing the learning curve for new employees, this strategy also facilitates and encourages an informal exchange of ideas (as opposed to the traditional hierarchical setup at most businesses).
On suggestion to the team at Oogwave would be to consider improve the UX of features and screens. There are several features that should be introduced more clearly to the user so they can understand better their value. Talking to the team there, they mentioned that coming soon a new option is coming where users will be able to customize Oogwave and choose the Apps they want to use. The Apps will be configurable independently for each group and for the company, reducing the redundancy.
The interface borrows heavily from the social network paradigm. In its execution, the Oogwave interface closely resembles the Facebook look and feel. Which is a good thing because it simplifies the transition from a social network to the application.
Oogwave has a fairly simple pricing structure. It has two tiers: Enterprise Network and Administered Network. While the former is free, the latter is paid. This is because the Administered Network comes bundled with utilities that enable greater security, support and services and network control for your network. You can also invite external customers to join your network using this option. Finally, Oogwave also offers custom support (and sponsorship) for educational institutions and non-profits.
Eventually, Oogwave enables you to optimize the best ideas in your organization. It facilitates interaction and engagement between employees and makes it simpler and easier for them to interact and work with each other. I would highly recommend the solution to companies that are interested in leveraging the collaboration benefits of social networks for their organization.
Ratings: ease of use 4/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 4/5