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In her intro talk to open the 2008 Demo conference, executive producer Chris Shipley spoke of the current revolution going on in enterprise software and services.
"All of us know that software really can be so much better than many of the business applications we have to use every day at work," she said. "We know that somewhere in the vast Internet are the tools we need to do the work we need to do."
Indeed, a whole sub-category of the companies and technologies debuting at Demo are based around allowing individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises to more easily organize themselves, their information and content, and enabling them to share, store and manage that content more effectively.
In some cases "information and content" takes the form of appointments. That's the province of TimeTrade Systems, which since 2000 has provided self-service appointment scheduling. On Tuesday, timeTrade introduced a new application, TimeDriver, which allows users to automatically book many appointments with multiple contacts, via a single e-mail message.
Designed to eliminate tiresome back-and-forth e-mail threads in search of compatible dates and times, TimeDriver allows you to send out a single e-mail to multiple recipients, who are then presented with a Web-based scheduling program that offers only available and mutually agreeable appointment times.
"A single scheduling process allows hundreds of e-mails to flow into your calendar, taking up available time slots," said CEO Ed Mallen.
Managing interactions with dozens or hundreds of people is also the goal of LiquidPlanner, a Seattle-based provider of Web-based project management software.
There are many different project-management applications out there, including Microsoft Project. What makes Liquid Planner unique is its fluidity.
"We found that the available tools did not match the realities of project teams," said CTO Bruce Henry. "The one thing that Liquid Planner does that nothing else does it to capture and manage uncertainty."
Using "ranged" task-completion estimates (i.e., "three to five weeks") coupled with probabilistic statistical analysis, Liquid Planner allows managers to determine the probability of completing a specific task, a larger project, or a portfolio of projects by a certain date. Building in uncertainty to projects may not be what CEOs are eager to hear, but director of marketing Liz Pearce points out that there's a cultural shift that occurs when employees start to tell the truth about how long given tasks will actually take.
Making those tasks easier is the goal of Iterasi, which bills itself as "the other side of search" -- a way to save and store dynamic HTML pages that in the ordinary course of a business day would be lost and require a fresh search to re-generate. For instance, if you've generated a Google search page with several useful links, you can save that specific results page, without doing a new search that might or might not produce the identical results.
"The Web delivers these wonderful personalized experiences," said CEO Ed Grillo. "The problem is you can't save these pages, and it's time-consuming and sometimes impossible to re-create them."
Iterasi offers a simple Web-based interface to save, search, and share dynamic Web pages. Sharing and managing many different types of content is also the concept behind Joggle, the new application from San Mateo, Calif.-based Fabrik,
Providing "aggregation through virtualization," Joggle allows users to store and access different forms of content -- documents, photos, video files, and so on -- in one place without requiring any consolidation of files.
"We're providing a central location where you can see all your stuff, while leaving it where you want to," said Mike Williams, Fabrik senior VP and general manager.
Leave it where you want to, and manage, manipulate, and share it from a central location. That's the organizing principle behind much of the new technology being debuted at Demo.