Yammer and Salesforce Chatter are gonna have some significant new competition starting Monday," Robert Scoble tweeted over the weekend. It turns out he was talking about Convofy, a new product from the Adobe and LMKR funded startup Scrybe."
In response to Scoble, Spigit VP of Product Hutch Carpenter tweeted: "Given incumbents, better have some 9x secret sauce or be a big vendor." I couldn't have said it better myself.
Well, Scrybe isn't a big vendor. So does it have some secret sauce?
Convofy certainly has a different approach to enterprise collaboration. It's focused on integration with other applications. Up to now there have been two approaches to integration: aggregate or embed.
Aggregators, like tibbr for example, act as a universal inbox sucking in information from other applications and letting users have conversations about it all in one place. Another approach to this is the app store model that Jive and Salesforce.com are moving towards: let developers build this own integrations on top of your platform.
The problem with aggregators is that it requires users to start to learn and start using another application, either as a replacement for existing apps or more often as an extra destination during the work day. It creates a new destination, which requires new habits.
The problem with embedding is that it can leave conversations scattered across several applications and may not fit nicely into one place. The scatter problem is usually solved by having a central site in addition to embeds, but that can cause the same problem that aggregators do.
Convofy combines both approaches. It has a browser built-in that employees will use to open any Web application, whether that's an on premise CRM application or something like Google Maps. They can then use Convofy to discuss any item from those Web apps, such as a prospective customer, a purchase order, a Google Docs spreadsheet, a place in Google Maps or a blog post. Users can highlight a part of the item and have conversations attached to that specific area. The most comparable product I've seen is SimplyBox's overlay.
Scrybe CEO and co-founder Faizan Buzdar is quick to point out that Convofy is not a replacement for a browser, but a supplementary tool for using work-related apps. You can find out more about it works by watching this demo video:
Scoble did a longer, more in-depth walk-through:
Convofy has a new approach - is it going to be enough? Buzdar says his team has worked long and hard on the product, making sure that it is unique and competitive. "I promise it won't be like anything you've seen," says Buzdar. But that might not mean anything if the company can't get decision makers to try the product.
The endorsement from Robert Scoble may help with that. The problem, as Mathew Ingram wrote for Gigaom, is that the so-called "Scoble effect" can be a double-edged sword. And as Scoble himself has written, he can't make a product that people don't want into a successful product.
Time will tell whether Convofy's approach is better than existing approaches. But it's an innovative approach to enterprise collaboration, and it's worth paying attention to. And it helps us remember that the changes facing enterprise collaboration aren't over yet.