NewsGator revamps enterprise RSS tool

NewsGator improved its enterprise RSS server, as demand for this type of tool increases among corporations

As corporations increase adoption of content syndication tools, NewsGator Technologies has improved its enterprise RSS system with an AJAX Web interface, tagging capabilities and support for BlackBerry devices and collaboration platforms from Microsoft and IBM.

Enterprise RSS (Really Simple Syndication) vendors like NewsGator, Attensa and KnowNow are riding a strong wave of corporate interest in content syndication wares. RSS tools are being used in workplace settings to distribute a wide variety of information that previously was either added silently to portals or sent via the already information-overloaded e-mail channel, in both instances running a high risk of being ignored.

Enterprise RSS is often used to notify users of changes and updates to corporate blogs and wikis, as well as to databases and CRM (customer relationship management) systems, said Oliver Young, a Forrester Research analyst. "Traditional portals haven't worked because it's a pain in the butt to check them every day for new information. Or you might get an e-mail alert. But with RSS, every time something happens on the wiki or the blog gets updated, it comes to you automatically. That's tremendously efficient," he said.

Many workers see their overflowing e-mail inbox as a to-do list they must get through every day, so non-urgent but still important messages either get overlooked or instantly deleted, with common victims being memos from human resources and company newsletters. RSS offers a more appropriate distribution channel for those messages, he said.

"Most people are drowning in e-mail. Taking stuff that doesn't have to be in the e-mail channel and moving it someplace else is a big benefit," Young said. "With RSS, you can move to another medium all the information you need to know about but not necessarily act on, so you can get to it when you have time."

Like most feed readers, the NewsGator interface lists the information sources on screen in a left-hand column and displays selected items on a right-hand column. When users want to read the latest items delivered from a particular source, they click on its name in the left-hand column and the items appear in the right-hand column.

Microsoft has added RSS features to some products, like Internet Explorer and Outlook, but products from NewsGator and the other enterprise RSS specialists offer much deeper functionality, Young said.

On Tuesday, NewsGator announced its Enterprise Server 2.0, featuring a new AJAX-based Web reader, as well as the ability for users to share by tagging or clipping information. Enterprise Server 2.0 also includes new plug-ins for IBM's Lotus Notes communication and collaboration and SameTime instant messaging platforms that let users access RSS feeds from those systems' interfaces.

Also new is the ability to access feeds on BlackBerry and Windows Mobile-based devices. Meanwhile, Enterprise Server 2.0 feeds can be distributed via Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2007 and portals based on Windows SharePoint Services. Other enhancements include improved reporting functions and additional APIs for integration with other systems.

NewsGator currently has about 75 customers and about 400,00 end users of Enterprise Server, including Procter & Gamble Co. and Biogen Idec.

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