Kerio, a company best known for enterprise email, is trying to make inroads in cloud-based social collaboration with the launch of Samepage. This new social collaboration platform enters a noisy market, with one end being some flash in the pan social enterprise tools to collaboration platforms like Atlassian Confluence (an update to the trusted wiki standard) and Office 365.
Ease of use
My concern with most collaboration platforms these days is ease of use. For a collaboration platform to be successful, it must be usable by all team members; otherwise, users will do their best to circumvent it in order to do their jobs.
Samepage is built around a very methodical approach:
- Organize content
- Invite users
- Share content
This ease of use could get Samepage around the sand trap of poor implementation that dogs many collaboration platforms, including SharePoint. In its Getting Started section, I would really like to see Samepage take on its approaches to using the platform for business and technical collaboration tasks. For example, how could you put a project document online for review and approval using Samepage? While such a solution might be easy to come up with for us collaboration geeks, there are users who would benefit from this type of support content. Figure A shows Samepage open to its support content.
Samepage open to support content. (Click the image to enlarge it.)
Samepage’s simplicity could also work against it if users cannot see how they can apply the tool to their collaboration and communications requirements. This is not a showstopper or an insurmountable issue, but it does warrant attention in a future release.
The top level of Samepage is based on spaces. If you’re using Samepage for project collaboration, spaces would be best as an organizational schema for departments or teams. You can also use spaces to organize at multiple levels. For example:
- Space for department
- Space for team
- Space for project areas
Figure B shows a new space that is ready for pages to be added.
A new Samepage space. (Click the image to enlarge it.)
Creating pages in Samepage revolves around components called content types. At the current time, Samepage includes the following content types:
- Text for inserting text
- File Library for uploading files (it’s missing an opportunity to integrate with other cloud services)
- Image for inserting an image into a page
- Image gallery for inserting an image gallery into a page
- Table for inserting a spreadsheet like table into a page
- Event List for creating a list of calendar events
- Video for embedding a video clip
- Link List for creating a list of important links
- Mashup for entering in straight HTML code
Samepage has the option of two or three columns, though you’ll primarily be operating in the center column where the content types reside. Figure C shows a page I built out with content types.
Page with content types. (Click the image to enlarge it.)
Interestingly enough, Samepage doesn’t include page templates. Like many people, I have mixed emotions about templates, but they are one of the chief tools in enterprise collaboration for promoting standardization across pages and sites. In supporting the rollout of SharePoint and even wikis, I’ve found the best teaching tool for end users is an example, and Samepage lacks that in the company’s effort to keep the solution simple.
Sharing and social tools
Sharing and social tools keep the simple theme like the rest of the platform. Click Invite to invite other users to your Samepage spaces and pages. The platform is very comment friendly, with comments showing up in the news feed. There is also a Share option in the Tools menu (Gear icon), but it is almost redundant with the Invite button.
Samepage could win or lose with sharing and social tools, but like other parts of the platform, it is behind the times in light of collaboration tools like Alfresco and even Google Sites.
You have the option to share files in the File Library, but Samepage isn’t doing anything new here either. There is still room for innovation with sharing and social tools, and I hope that Samepage seizes those opportunities in a future release.
Samepage does offer the option to connect your email inbox. I had hoped for a platform with this feature; however, the feature was as underwhelming as the rest of the platform was to me.
Samepage is a fairly vanilla offering. Unfortunately, Samepage’s simplicity works against it in areas of design, user assistance, and social tools, which make the solution feel quite dated when compared to platforms like Confluence, Google Sites, and Office 365.
Considering Kerio’s core business in enterprise email, I was expecting a more full-featured solution. I felt like I was using the foundation of a platform yet to come, but perhaps Kerio is entering a new market cautiously.
Kerio has the opportunity to apply some of the technology and business lessons the company has learned first hand from its core business to Samepage and build a market leading solution. Samepage isn’t a bad platform, it’s just an incomplete one.
Read more about the cloud and Software as a Service
Check out the ZDNet and TechRepublic special feature Cloud: How to do SaaS right and our downloadable Executive’s Guide to Best Practices in SaaS and the Cloud.