The enterprise social network segment of the collaboration market is now a mature one. There is a generally accepted basket of functions that define the products in this space such as activity feeds, content sharing, profiles, and various communications capabilities such as microblogs, commenting, and instant messaging. While some enterprise social networks focus on being the next generation company intranet and others the social communication glue between systems of record, on a feature level these products are pretty much the same. SAP Jam, though, has always been a bit different. Instead of trying to be a general collaboration tool, SAP has tried to be much more intentional about SAP Jam.
Dropbox Paper, currently in Beta, is the latest product from online collaboration company, Dropbox. Based on their Hackpad acquisition and formerly called Notes, Paper is entering into the crowded fields of collaborative writing applications. Its competitors include Evernote, Box Notes, Quip, and even Google Docs and Microsoft OneNote and Word. Paper follows the model of Evernote and Box Notes more closely in that it presents a minimal and clean interface with fewer formatting and organizational capabilities than word processors such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Like Evernote and Box Notes, Paper is best used for writing quick documents and sharing them. There are a small amount of formatting capabilities as
This past week IBM announced that it was going to pay over $2B for the digital assets of The Weather Company. That means everything but the TV channel because who buys into the last millennium media when you can have something relevant? I am surprised how little buzz there is about this deal. It’s not like IBM didn’t promote it. The news was the lead keynote on Wednesday at IBM’s Insight conference and there was the usual press and analyst blitz. It’s not like they were trying to hide it. My assumption is that the real impact of this acquisition hasn’t sunk in yet. It also doesn’t help that IBM is
I had the privilege to attend the IBM Watson Analytics “Analytics for All: Empowering Everyone to Know ” event on October 14th. I like these events better than the massive conferences. They are more intimate and allow for more meaningful conversations. It also afforded me the opportunity to reach a single day personal best of 11.1K impressions on Twitter. There were the company executive presentations and customer panels that have become common at all types of tech events. Often these presentations feel a bit fractured as different speakers cover a range of topics. This was not the case at the IBM Analytics for All event. Clear themes emerged from both
Okay, not really. Well, sort of. This past week, Microsoft rolled out the latest and greatest version of their flagship productivity suite, Microsoft Office 2016. On the surface, it’s not that much different from the previous version. There are some tweaks to the user interface but nothing that makes people go “Wow!” It seems cleaner, less cluttered, and more readable. Other than that, the UI is pretty much the same. There are a few big differences though between the old Office and the new Office that are noteworthy. First, is the new Share feature. Share allows documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to be shared with others without resorting to emailing attachments.
Dropbox Paper, currently in Beta, is the latest product from online collaboration company, Dropbox. Based on their Hackpad acquisition and formerly called Notes, Paper is entering into the crowded fields of collaborative writing applications. Its competitors include Evernote, Box Notes, Quip, and even Google Docs and Microsoft OneNote and Word. Paper follows the model of Evernote and Box Notes more closely in that it presents a minimal and clean interface with fewer formatting and organizational capabilities than word processors such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
Like Evernote and Box Notes, Paper is best used for writing quick documents and sharing them. There are a small amount of formatting capabilities as well as the ability to include pictures and attach files. The theory is that it is easier for teams to communicate ideas by not getting caught up in the writing and instead dropping in content that is relevant and sharing it. Paper certainly follows this philosophy closely by providing an easy to use interface (primarily because there isn’t much there) and a commenting capability similar to Microsoft Office Online’s.
Unfortunately, the usefulness of Paper is hindered by a number of missing features. Even for a Beta product these are glaring omissions.
- Organizational tools are mostly missing. Outside the ability to create sections headers (H1, H2, etc.) there is no way to break documents into smaller chunks. This makes Paper documents look like a stream of consciousness. In all fairness, Evernote and Box Notes are the same. This is likely an intentional part of the design. You can organize using folders and sub-folders but that creates collections of documents and not well-organized ones. That means it’s fine for taking quick notes but not for content creation or organizing projects. This is a stark contrast to Microsoft OneNote’s page and tab interface.
- Paper doesn’t store notes in Dropbox folders. Paper has its own folder system and documents are not stored in an end-user’s Dropbox folders. This simply makes no sense. All of an end-user’s files may be stored in DropBox folders but their Paper notes are in a different set of folders. The Paper folders are not synced with the desktop either. This is unique to Paper and not in a good way. Why would anyone want to keep Paper notes separate from other files, especially project files? It doesn’t make sense at all.
- There doesn’t seem a way to turn Paper notes into formal documents. If a team is just pushing ideas around then Paper is perfectly adequate. If a note needs to be turned into a formal document such as a PowerPoint deck, Word document, or even a PDF, there’s no good way to export the note into those formats. Sure, cut and paste works and one can always print to a PDF using a printer driver but this is not the most user friendly way to do this. Exporting to a common format and putting it into your Dropbox folders seems obvious.
- No Android mobile app. There may be an iOS app comign since there was a Hackpad iOS app but there certainly is no Android one. How can a major company launch into Beta without an Android app? It boggles the mind.
- The UI needs work. It isn’t obvious how you access formatting features. Sometimes you hover over the empty space and see a circle with a cross in it. Other times you select text. In either case, a toolbar pops up with mostly different but some overlapping functions. It’s not at all intuitive. Quip doesn’t something similar but you can always access the toolbar via a right-click. Obvious, obvious, obvious.
More than anything, it’s not clear why we need Paper or why Dropbox would put so much effort and money into it. If the point is to have a note taking and sharing application for Dropbox fanatics, then why aren’t Paper notes kept with other Dropbox files? If it’s a new way to collaborate and work, then why is it so similar to Box Notes and Evernote? Is it minimalism for the sake of minimalism? It can’t compete for collaborative content creation with Quip, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word. Paper doesn’t support semi-structured note taking like Microsoft OneNote (a key function for projects) or easy web clipping like Evernote. It doesn’t even sync notes to the desktop like… well, everyone else.
Paper is too little too late or misconceived form the start. It’s the kind of minimalist application that a handful of team members might start using but quickly outgrow. Dropbox is launching it into a crowded field of well-established players including Box, Google, and Microsoft. The worst part of Paper is that it is removed from Dropbox proper which will surely irritate the Dropbox aficionados. Simple put: It is not clear why someone would use Paper when there are so many better choices already available. Maybe version two will be better.