Traction tailors weblogs for business process

Putting popular weblogs to use for specific business processes, Traction Software Inc. on Monday introduced enterprise weblog technology targeted at the competitive intelligence and market research industries.

Using time and topic as organizational themes, Weblogs allow users to collect and link information from e-mail, the Web, Microsoft Office documents, and other sources in an organized format designed to bolster collaboration and information sharing.

Traction C.I. (Competitive Intelligence) is designed to help facilitate research processes common to marketing and competitive intelligence gathering such as collecting, organization, sharing, linking, and retrieving strategic information from multiple sources.

Weblogs offer enterprises an alternative to e-mail or traditional content management by providing easy to use publishing tools that create a unified repository of shared information can be quickly disseminated, according to Tim Simonson, CEO of Traction Software, based in Providence, R.I.

"[Weblogs] take highly unstructured, fragmented information and put structure around and send it out to users through the Internet," Simonson said. "People need to string bits of data together and see documents at a particular level. This is the way business people really work. [Weblogs] save them from printing out documents and e-mails and putting them in folders."

Moreover, Weblogs help the Internet become an interactive system, not just a read-only environment, Simonson added.

Traction Software's TeamPage Enterprise Weblog software includes a permissioning structure that moderates access to content, rich search capabilities, archives, and bidirectional linking to show relationships between ideas.

Traction C.I adds features that address different steps in the cycle of competitive intelligence research, including planning, collection, analysis, dissemination, and retrieval. Specifically, the C.I. Weblog provides a flexible topic and content labeling structure to ease planning and organization; captures content from sources such as external news feeds, business analytic systems, or authored reports; additional analysis features; an ExecutiveSummary e-mail newsletter dissemination feature, and permission-based search capabilities.

Minneapolis, Minn.-based software developer Notiva uses Traction Weblog software for a variety of efforts such as project management, competitive intelligence, intranet search, and knowledge management, according to Tim Dawson, lead technical architect at Notiva.

Notiva stumbled across Weblogs when it was considering purchasing a content management system.

"The struggle I have with content management tools [is that] they are extremely expensive, they were overkill for what we needed to do, and the features weren't really a good fit," Dawson said.

Dawson said he was intrigued by Weblog current events concept along with the searching capability because it gave his company what it was looking for: the ability to find information quickly and intuitively using parameters such as date.

Other features that are useful include the ability to e-mail in and out of the system and to contribute content directly from Microsoft Word, he said.

Traction is particularly useful for project management and competitive intelligence because it lets workers quickly and easily grab a Web page and post it to the Traction site to share with other business team members, according to Dawson.

In addition, Notiva's development team uses the Weblog software as a common knowledge management tool that can be used to convey changes to an application or new information that would be helpful to product development.

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