Near-Time, a Web 2.0 software company that makes wikis, blogs and discussion forums for businesses, can now push those collaborative technologies to mobile devices in the form of widgets.
I caught up today by phone with the North Carolina-based Near-Time’s co-founders, CEO Reid Conrad and CTO Lee Buck. They said they were able to offer this capability largely by focusing on being compatible with the web-browser on mobile phones, which have become more sophisticated and closer to the capability you’d get on your computer, especially with the iPhone.
“Modern browsers are more available on mobile phones and devices,” Conrad said. “If you’re running Safari in an iPod touch or iPhone, you can access your Near-Time community.”
Focusing on the browser for mobile makes sense for Near-Time given it’s a pure SaaS (software as a service) vendor. Its web-based portal allows groups to collaborate on key projects using Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis and blogs.
A large portion of Near-Time’s customers, who pay $50 per user per year, use the tools to collaborate with external customers and business partners on projects and partnerships.
Since Near-Time hosts the data, only a web-browser, login and password for each user is required to get up and running. With the widget capability, users can push their company blog or wiki as a widget to the page of their choice, such as an iGoogle page, and view it there on their mobile browser.
Sort of off-topic (well, off-topic for this blog post, but not a for a couple stories I’m working on), I asked Conrad if he found his customers were line-of-business heads circumventing their IT departments by purchasing his service with a corporate credit card.
His reply: When he and Buck started Near-Time in 2003, they dealt with a lot of line of business heads going around IT and buying their product, especially if their collaboration needs were at the bottom of the IT project list.
Now, he says, the happy medium rests in working with both business users (to hear their needs in collaboration software) and IT (to know what administrative capabilities they want).
“IT needs platforms, but they also need the control and security,” he said. “Line of business and IT are starting to work together. The maturity for everybody has kicked in.”