Setting The Trends

Looking at the announcement of the KMWorld Trend Setting Products for 2012, it was great to note that NewsGator Social Sites has made the list again. We’ve gotten the nod from KMWorld for the last five years, and we don’t take it lightly. Being responsive to our customers' needs and finding new ways to connect people to each other and to the information they need has been a goal from the very earliest days of NewsGator.

When I was younger, I had a mentor who helped shape my values about what’s important in business and in dealing with customers. He was highly educated and very capable, the kind of person that I now classify in my mind as a Maker and a Finisher. Jerry was a general contractor who let inexperienced kids work for him and learn to be Makers themselves. He built his own computer from a kit (it was 8080 based and ran CP/M.). He could take a pile of stuff, and at the end of the day there was a working object sitting there where chaos had been. Buildings, bridges, and even once one of those cool fountains that use coherent water jets, he would start with raw materials and when he was done there was art. This is a great skill, and one we don’t teach often enough. Make things, and finish what you start.

For some reason we had a running joke that as a final fallback you could always become a plumber. Plumbers, Jerry argued, only had to understand two things. One was that water flows downhill. The other was that it’s not all water. The latter being why plumbers get paid so much. I absorbed that lesson well enough to become a developer instead, but in a very real way a lot of what we do here at NewsGator is about plumbing - though thankfully only metaphorically.

We started out as an RSS company back in the days when RSS was very much on the surface and new and shiny. We wrote software that brought RSS into your Outlook mailbox (our first eponymous product offering,) and quickly decided that reading the same stuff twice was pointless and so we added a web service to synchronize the experience. Web readers followed, and then dedicated readers across multiple platforms. A bunch of data flowed through the plumbing (not water, but hardly any of it what makes plumbing so expensive either). It didn’t take long for the smart folks I work with to see that it wasn’t just the data, it was the way people interacted with it that was interesting. As soon as we were able to aggregate information about how people used the news that was being sent to them, we started working on the ideas that became Social Sites.

Fast Forward

Fast forward the better part of a decade and we find ourselves developing enterprise-class social business software, and now RSS is mostly plumbing - one of many ways we collect the noise of working life within hundreds of global companies and organize it into information that people can use. Through deep integration with other platforms like SharePoint, we can see what is happening in your spheres of influence and interest and surface important events as well as communications.

With our new Lookout view, you can take more complete control of your activity stream and ensure you don’t miss out on anything important. If things are vital, we allow you to forward them to yourself on other platforms for immediate attention. Lookout gives you complete control if that’s what you want, or it gives you great auto-pilot if you’re not interested in fiddling with the dial. I’m very proud of the work and the team that built it.

What trend will we set next year?

Over the last eight years or so, we also learned that while we try to give a smooth fit and finish to everything, we’re never really done. What trend will we set next year? I won’t spoil it for you, but I can say that there’s more devices, more channels, better organization of input, and smoother discovery all being hammered together by the best developers I’ve ever worked with. Our product, sales, support, marketing, and services teams are listening to our customers and they are helping shape the product too. We keep striving to be Makers and Finishers, and that’s a trend you can count on.


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