Start-up Flypaper Inc. will this week unveil a hosted service that it says will help customers quickly and easily collaborate online.
Flypaper's platform uses a browser-based authoring technology that lets users design a custom portal into the collaboration features they choose, ranging from online calendars to discussion groups and issue trackers. Flypaper has more than 70 collaboration features.
"What we're doing is providing collaborative tools that bolt on to existing e-commerce systems and help companies accelerate the interaction between the vendor and the buyer," says Andy Leak, Flypaper's founder and CEO.
What's interesting about Flypaper, says Bob Zurek, senior analyst with the research firm Forrester Research Inc., is "the way the collaborative portal can be created, so it doesn't take an IT person to assemble. . . . All the components that they have can be quickly put together in the environment."
Flypaper has 85 customers, including Texaco and Compaq Computer Corp. ISVOR, the human resources and training subsidiary of Fiat, plans to use Flypaper for its joint venture with the Dilts Strategy Group to provide human resources services to three Fiat subsidiaries in the U.S.
John Dilts, CEO of the joint venture, says his team is using Flypaper because of its flexibility and its ability to scale quickly. He says the venture foresees rolling out Webcasts and video-on-demand learning tools to tens of thousands of users.
"When we compare what it would cost to build this kind of collaboration site from scratch it would be exponentially more expensive," Dilts says. "We don't know ultimately the number of users we're going to have, and so we wanted to start out small but have the ability to scale."
In addition, Flypaper can integrate with technology the joint venture already has, Dilts says. The Flypaper platform is wrapped by an application program interface and uses an XML interface or extensible components to allow swift integration, Leak says.
While "what you see is what you get" technologies let businesses get collaboration environments up and running within minutes, they don't support brand customization or integration with legacy applications. "We're providing that same speed, get-up-and-running-in-minutes approach, with the ability to totally customize and integrate with your legacy applications," Leak says.
Flypaper's platform is hosted on Linux-based servers at an Exodus Communications Inc. data center. Costs start at US$12 per licensed user per month, the company says.