Are You Collaborating Creatively?

Mind mapping has traditionally been associated with creative types like writers and designers to brainstorm or organize research in a visual, non-linear way. There are several hosted services that let you create a mind map online and share it, including, Mindomo, and Thinkature.
A new Saas version of Mindjet’s MindManager mapping program, Mindjet Connect, takes the standalone mapping features and combines them with a business collaboration solution (think Google Docs, WebEx Office, Office Live). Its integration with Microsoft Project and other MS applications make it an interesting alternative for companies that already rely on MS Office. We talked with Michael Deutch of Mindjet to find out more:
Q&A with Michael Deutch, Director of Solutions Marketing, Mindjet Corporation
Michael Deutch.jpg
There are many hosted and software based project collaboration tools on the market: Microsoft SharePoint and Live Workgroup, Clarizen, CatalystWeb, HyperOffice and so many other solutions. How does one pick the right solution for their business?
There are dozens of project collaboration tools for teams to choose from and you’ve got to pick the tools that are going to work best for you. Most simply facilitate the tracking of project schedules, status and related documents. The difference with Mindjet is it raises the quality of your project collaboration throughout every step of your process by putting the concept of dynamic visual thinking and mind mapping at the center. Mindjet software enables you to visually gather, manage and share a large variety of information and resources quickly and easily — making it an ideal tool for managing projects.

No other collaboration tool celebrates the way your mind works like Mindjet’s products and services. Logic and creativity live in harmony, and multi-dimensional information is linked and layered in infinite combinations to lend clarity and inspire great work. Every project, from a simple task to a complex initiative, benefits from the unique perspective that only Mindjet can provide – helping individuals and teams make informed decisions, manage priorities and get things done through visual thinking.
To pick the right solution for your business you need to understand what tools will best fit your business goals. Below is a short description of what you can get with MindManager or Mindjet Connect.
MindManager enables teams to:

  • Visually capture, organize and link key ideas and information to inform decisions, incite action and get things done.
  • Brainstorm, plan, strategize and interact in more dynamic and meaningful ways.
  • Get clarity on the big picture, down to the smallest detail – for everyday tasks and large-scale initiatives.

Now with Mindjet Connect, teams can take mapping to the max.

  • Invite team members from any location to co-author and collaborate on maps in real time over the Web.
  • Access all project related files and maps in secure workspaces from anywhere over the internet.
  • Get the best of Web conferencing and interact through chat, digital whiteboards and more. (These collaboration tools offer a similar user interface as the other collaboration tools that exist today.)

I was recently trying out 37Signals BaseCamp and found it was quite restrictive and not flexible. How does one know these things, without first taking the time and wasting days or weeks in really trying out a product? It’s quite a frustrating experience.
Trying out new tools can be time consuming. Our charter is to make it easy to bring mapping and visual thinking to the masses to increase business productivity and the ability to not only think bigger, but also get the big stuff done. We’ve made it easy to get on board with our 30-day free trial of MindManager and Mindjet Connect. If you don’t want to try out the product, you can get a quick overview of the power of mapping for business productivity with the MindManager demo.
You can always go here to browse how the hundreds of ways that Mindjet’s customers are using MindManager to accelerate efficiency, productivity, and innovation more quickly than by just using the other linear-thinking office tools available to most.
Let’s go back and bit…is Mindjet Connect a project management tool, a collaboration tool, both – or something entirely different?
MindManager and Mindjet Connect are both powerful tools for managing and collaborating on projects, goals and even your to-do lists. MindManager provides a fast visual method to create project plans, document objectives, identify and resolve issues and risks, track milestones and organize all your project documents and resources.
Mindjet Connect, an extension of MindManager, is a collaboration tool that offers a flexible, secure online environment where teams can collaborate in real-time over the web and take mind mapping to a whole new level. Using MindManager on your desktop or the internet with MindManager Web, teams can now co-edit maps and share documents with anyone from virtually anywhere using workspaces, web conferencing and chat.
For more advanced project scheduling, Mindjet offers a solution that presents your mind maps visually as synchronized project Gantt charts. Further, Mindjet works seamlessly with Microsoft Project and other project scheduling applications.
So while we’re a project management and a collaboration tool, we have higher goals — we’re changing how work gets done. We provide the way to visually tie together and easily collect, organize, manage and build on the ideas, information and people involved in any project or initiative. Enabling individuals and workgroups to work this way will ultimately drive productivity, team effectiveness and business innovation in a way never before possible.
Do many of your competitors offer “mind mapping” features? Please explain.
We look at our target market as the hundreds of millions of business Microsoft Office users worldwide. We consider ourselves to be part of the large productivity software market, and, more specifically with this Mindjet Connect launch, we are also participating in the $6.9 billion collaboration market (according to IDC).
Collaboration tools, from web conferencing to social networking, are gaining significant attention in the marketplace. When collaboration capabilities are combined with the ability to work with content in a visual context, Mindjet is unmatched. Collaboration tools make it easier to have more meetings. We help our customers have better meetings. It is because collaboration is put in context, with the right content, that we can deliver on this promise.
There are many productivity software and collaboration tools companies, but none that offer mind mapping features tightly integrated with Microsoft Office products like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Project. We compare Mindjet Connect to Sharepoint, WebEx, Google Docs,, WebEx Office, Central Desktop, and the like.
There are companies that just provide mind-mapping products, like Freemind,, MindMeister or Mindomo. Our difference is we go well beyond just mind mapping. That’s the important distinction. Mind mapping is only among the many things you can do with MindManager. MindManager does that extremely well and we are considered the leader in the market. The real value is that we go beyond mind mapping. Both with MindManager and Mindjet Connect.
While mapping will always be at our core, we are aiming for much more. Looking forward, we offer far more – capabilities that together, are competitively unmatched in the industry. We’re providing a visual way to work, and the map is the representation of the work effort. But more importantly, it is the foundation to improve the way people interact with other people and information. No company is better suited to capitalize on this opportunity than Mindjet.
In the project collaboration business are the dynamics of a hosted solution vs. a software solution any different than a more traditional – i.e., database, word processing or document repository – solution? Are there are unique things to consider when deciding if a hosted or software solution is best for a project collaboration tool?
There are a lot of factors that drive decisions around hosted or on premise solutions including cost, security and customizations. For project teams, both large and small, there is a growing trend to move towards hosted solutions like Mindjet Connect. The instant time to value and platform independence allows geographically dispersed teams to be up and running instantly, not the months or years that it takes to deploy traditional enterprise software packages. The on-demand model is winning over even skeptical IT professionals by eliminating maintenance tasks and allowing business users to perform basic customization, freeing IT teams to focus on driving true business value.
Mindjet’s customer profile runs the gamut — from single seat licenses to thousands of seats within big enterprises like HP, Cisco, BMW, and CSC in Europe. We created Mindjet Connect to enable more of these teams to collaborate on projects together. Some of the benefits they will experience include:

  • Faster implementations and time to value. Hosted solutions offer project teams the fastest path to realize immediate productivity gains and increase their effectiveness. According to a recent study by Triple Tree and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), on-demand deployments are 50 to 90 percent faster, with a total cost of ownership five to ten times less than installed software.
  • Lower costs and risks. There is no hardware to purchase, scale, and maintain, no operating systems, database servers, or application servers to install, no consultants and staff to manage it all. Even more important, however, are the long-term savings. Gartner estimates that two thirds of IT time and budgets is spent on maintaining infrastructure and dealing with updates. That’s a thing of the past with the on-demand model.
  • Greater Flexibility. Users of on-premise solutions have no choice but to wait weeks or months for even minor modifications to their applications, and in some cases their requests are never met at all. Hosted solutions like Mindjet Connect are designed from the beginning to make performing basic customizations easy, so that even business users could customize in minutes, without programming.

With Mindjet’s launch of its first line of hosted SaaS products we aim to enable more people to start using visual thinking in their everyday work flow and collaboration. Our hope is to help people uncover big ideas, turn them into action, and get them to the finish line faster.
Any other questions I should have asked, but didn’t? Please feel free to answer them.
I wanted to give you a flavor of how a variety of small businesses use MindManager. Below are a few customer examples.
SRK Consulting (about 500 employees):
Embarcadero Technologies (about 270 employees):
PM College: