Introducing: mergeflow Workspaces

Many mergeflow users are analysts, scouts, or other intelligence professionals who collect, edit, and share content with others.  However, while mergeflow Search helps you find content, so far we have not provided anything that lets you share your findings with others.  One “fallback option” then is to share findings via email, for example.  Below, I describe why this usually does not work.

With mergeflow Workspaces, we have started building a new product.  The idea behind Workspaces is to make collaboration easier.  As a first step, we have just released a “sneak preview” version that lets you collect and edit content.  In the very near future, we will add the other core features such as sharing Workspaces with colleagues (who do not necessarily have to be mergeflow Search users).

In the meantime, if you use mergeflow Search already, we hope that you enjoy testing the Workspaces sneak preview.  If you are not using mergeflow Search yet but would like to try it out, please drop us a line via support at mergeflow dot com.

Information sharing “in real life”

You probably know this situation: you are researching a topic, and you found something interesting (e.g. a paper, news about a new company, etc.).  Now you would like to share your findings with your colleagues.  There are several different ways to do this.  For example,

  • You could use your organization’s content management system or enterprise social system (or one of these systems, in case you have more than one).
  • You could tell your colleagues about your findings next time you meet them at the water cooler.
  • You could send email.

Let’s say that you find your organization’s CMS and enterprise social systems too complex, and the water cooler option does not appeal to you either for some reason.  So you send email.  Here is how this typically plays out (this is an anonymized example; you below was in fact me (= Florian) on several occasions…):

–Monday, 9:30am–

You found two technology licensing offers and three patents, which you now email to your colleagues John, Bob, and Alice.

–Monday, 9:32am–

You realize that you forgot to include Zoe on your email.  So you either forward your first email only to Zoe, or additionally also to John, Bob, and Alice (so that they know that Zoe knows).

–Monday, 12:10am–

You find two interesting papers.  You send them to John, Bob, Alice, and Zoe (perhaps you made yourself a little email distribution list for your research project).  Then you go have lunch.

–Monday, 1:05pm–

You find two more patents, which you also email to your colleagues.

You cannot complete your research project in one go, because you have other things to do as well.  So you get back to your project on Tuesday.

–Tuesday, 11:40am–

You find a new paper, which you email to your colleagues.

–Thursday, 12:20pm–

Meanwhile, Alice (who is on your distribution list) goes to lunch with Emma.  You do not know Emma, so she is not on your email distribution list.  But Alice knows Emma from a previous project a while ago, and she appreciates her opinion as a subject matter expert.  Over coffee, Emma says, “forget the papers — you should really be looking at companies instead!”.

–Thursday, some time in the afternoon–

Since you are not aware of the conversation between Alice and Emma, you keep looking for papers, and you send two more papers to your colleagues.  You take pride in your ability to dig up these papers, and you think you are doing your colleagues a great favor by sending the papers to them.

Keeping track of it all

So, by now you have emailed (and your colleagues had to read and organize)…

  • two technology offerings
  • five patents
  • six papers
  • no information on companies

Not only is it almost impossible to keep track of this information, or to keep everything organized in one place.  We also end up having irrelevant findings (the papers).  At the same time we missed other things that would have been relevant (information on companies).

Enter mergeflow Workspaces

My colleagues and me have experienced many “email ping pong” scenarios like this, and so have many of our users.  We decided it is time to do something about this.  So we have started to build mergeflow Workspaces.  Workspaces will allow you to easily collect, edit, and share content.

As a first step, we have just released a sneak preview of Workspaces.  At this stage, you can use Workspaces to collect and edit content found in mergeflow Search or elsewhere.  As a next step, we will add sharing functionality. Of course, without sharing, Workspaces still lack a (or perhaps the) central feature.  However, we decided to release a Workspaces sneak preview anyways, just so that you can get a first impression of Workspaces look and feel.

Here are a few more things about Workspaces:

Responsive design

Workspaces are responsive.  This means that you can use Workspaces on your laptop or desktop, tablet, or smartphone.  Their look and feel adapts to the device you are using.

workspace-laptop-and-smartphone

 

Add content from mergeflow Search

When you see an interesting document in mergeflow Search, simply click on the paperclip symbol next to the document, and select a Workspace to which you would like to add the document.  Or you can create a new Workspace, and add your finding there:

add-to-workspace-screenshot

 

Edit and add content in a Workspace

Workspaces have an easy-to-use inline editor that lets you edit content, or add additional content (e.g. texts or images from other webpages via copy+paste, or links to relevant sites).

workspace-inline-editor-screenshot

 

This editor is active when you visit Workspaces with a laptop, desktop, or tablet.  For smartphones, we have disabled the editor.  We think that this makes for a more pleasant reading experience on smartphones (and we think that most of you will use a tablet, laptop, or desktop for editing anyways).

So…. what’s next?

Like I mentioned above, so far Workspaces are not exactly very collaborative.  In order to change this, we still have to build the “sharing” functionality.  This will be our next step.  In the meantime, stay tuned to our blog — we will post here when Workspaces are ready for sharing!


Also published on Medium.