January 13, 2012

Keys to Convo: A Primer for New Users

For new users, we thought it might be useful to get a quick glimpse at five of the features that make Convo stand out in the gaggle of social business apps. We like to say that Convo is the first true integration of social and collaboration. The capabilities below will demonstrate why this is the case.

1. First there is our unparalleled on-the-page collaboration. Instead of switching back and forth between your communications environment (say, email or IM) and the content you are trying to discuss, in Convo you can highlight, markup and annotate directly on over two dozen types of media – including Office documents, PDFs, images or even videos (yes, you can markup and annotate videos in Convo). How else do you share comments on a picture or a video anyway?

Convo will provide you a high-fidelity preview of the file, and then allow you to highlight text passages, markup images or video, and comment on those elements and share those comments with others. Don’t just talk about the item in question – circle it or highlight it, and tie your comments directly to it!

As you can read elsewhere on our blog, we think you can quantify the cost savings and productivity improvement of working in a single, cohesive environment rather than switching back and forth between apps.

2. We’re already beyond what other social platforms do, but it gets even better. In Convo, you can exercise that same direct, on-the-page collaboration on web pages and apps. I’m sure this didn’t register, since you’ve never engaged in this kind of mind-bending and useful exercise before. So listen carefully…

When you share a link to a web page in Convo, we don’t just ship you off on your own to another browser window the way other apps do. We bring your desired web page into your collaboration environment.

This is unique: we load the web page right within Convo. And then you can actually do the same highlighting, markup and commenting directly on the web content. Think of this as holding private conversations on public content. Discussing web pages, on the web pages: you can’t get this feature anywhere else. It works on web apps too. This alone should get us voted web app of the year.

3. Convo Groups the evolution of groupware. Groups may seem like an ordinary and unremarkable capability, but in Convo your groups can be shared not only with your direct colleagues, but also with all of your collaborators inside and outside of your organization.

This makes Convo a natural evolution in the state of groupware art, which migrated from Yahoo Groups, to Lotus Quickplace, to Google Groups, to maybe Basecamp, and now to Convo. When you’re working with an array of folks scattered geographically and organizationally, invite them into a Convo group and stay connected – collaboratively (see points 1 and 2).

Groups are a great way to collaborate with customers, partners, contributors. And, by the way, unlike Yammer the activity in all your external groups is visible to you in a common activity feed.

4. Email integration. Though much has been made recently of the death of email (okay, even we mused about it), we all know that email isn’t going away anytime soon. Email is just too universal a conduit and notification channel. But let’s face it, email is not a place to do real work.

The good news is that it’s easy to get messages and attachments from your email into Convo’s collaborative environment because Convo allows you to send messages directly into groups, to yourself, or to your followers. Every group has its own unique email address, which means that you can move email threads and messages with important attachments to an environment infinitely better suited to collaboration. If someone sends you a photo or an Excel file attached to an email, just forward it to your Convo group, and hold a more constructive conversation about the content in a shared environment.

The flip-side is also true: you can email any Convo content to yourself or to others. Convo also provides flexible notifications via email, so you can stay on top of developments in the real work environment when you are forced to be focused on email.

5. Finally – and this is important – Convo offers the ability to connect directly with your colleagues (inside and outside the organization) with our built-in instant messaging. You might think – as all the other social platform vendors must have – that you don’t need yet another IM environment. While we totally respect that perspective, how do you collaborate in real time with these other environments? You have a chat window open, while viewing some key piece of content that your colleague is (presumably) also viewing. There is no connection between the communication environment and the real collaborative work. Comments are in one window, while the content is in another window. Convo brings the two together, and even allows you to highlight, markup and annotate the content in real time, and point to it within the chat session!

We can’t blame them really: other social platforms don’t deliver IM because they don’t have an integrated collaborative work environment. Convo provides IM because it’s part of how people work together – and that’s what we’re all about!

Okay, there are five important and unique character traits. No other platform allows you to do real collaborative work directly in the connected social environment.

Now go out, check them out, be fruitful, collaborative and prosper!

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