Looking at the sponsors for the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris I saw an ad for Zyncro, positioned as ‘Your Enterprise Social Network’. Intrigued, I browsed over, and was immediately impressed with what I saw. After creating an account, and fooling with the tool for an hour, I found a lot of innovative ideas, including an implementation of open following, similar to that of Yammer.
The open follower model is what we have come to know from Twitter and other open (‘consumer’ social networks, where a user can follow any other user, and receive their public updates. It is a true pull model, since the creator of the tweet does not need to address the tweets to people specifically.
Most other work media tools that I am aware of do not implement this model fully. Instead they implement a much more limited model, where users are implicitly ‘following’ projects, spaces, or other defined contexts they’ve created or to which they have been invited to. There is no general mechanism for simply following the status updates of people you are interested in. Yammer supports this. And I think it is essential for social networking to flourish in the workplace.
Zyncro takes the idea a step further, implementing something like retweets, or reposts. These are called ‘quotes’ in Zyncro. Here you see where I am logged in and I opt to quote something posted by my alter ego, O Boyd:
Note that I can choose to repost to all my followers, the whole organization (because I have admin rights), or into a specific ‘group’ (the term Zyncro uses for named contexts). I opted to send to the Project X group:
Zyncro has a number of other intriguing features.
Along with files and tasks, the tool supports notes (called ‘information’) and decisions. Decisions are basically notes that are designated as representing decisions, which would make more sense if they were attached to other objects, like tasks and files. For example, I found myself envisioning a task linked to a file and assigned to a coworker, called ‘Review this document for release’. I imagined that a decision could be attached to the task, with the text ‘Approved’, or better yet, a selection from a list of values: ‘approved’, ‘not approved’, ‘rework and resubmit’, and so on. Maybe Zyncro is heading in that direction.
Updates can be voted on, so they can be used as a means of getting back a straw vote on ideas.
When I want to drill down into Project X I click on the Files and Groups, then select Project X and I am show this context, with Messages of that project being displayed:
When I select the Tasks tab on the upper right, I am shown the tasks associated with Project X. Here I am showing all ‘tasks’ which includes information and decisions.
Note that I can opt to check off those tasks that I’d like to ‘Include in next meeting’. I can generate a PDF of those tasks, for example, and open that PDF in the next meeting. I like this idea of staging things to be reviewed at meetings, and I can imagine that when integrated with other meeting-oriented tools, that could be quite helpful.
Note also that Zyncro does integrate with a long list of tools, including SurveyMonkey, Twitter, EverNote, LinkedIn, Google calendar and Gmail, and many more, including the companies own applets, like support for tags, and quotes. One of these is Join.me, which I was unable to try, but obviously holding online meetings and then pulling up the list of tasks to be discussed would be straightforward.
The Bottom Line
Zyncro looks to be a very innovative and powerful work media tool, and the company seems to be headed in a great direction toward more open following and a wide spectrum of use cases supported by the integration of third-party apps and Zyncro’s own add-ons.