I have a favorite application that I use on an almost daily basis, Rivalmap. I first started talking with Andrew Holt last year when their unfortunately named product called Competitious came out (btw they admit the naming mistake) and have stayed in touch with Andrew and co-founder Kris Rasmussen as the evolved the product.
First and foremost, I am a big fan of market awareness and competitive intelligence applications. It’s a category that is primed for a kick ass app based on social bookmarking to make some significant inroads but obstacles are many. The segment is dominated by service providers such as PR agencies who already have relationships with clients that they use to sell in clipping services, and for big companies they charge big dollars. Service sectors are big targets for hosted app providers.
There are dedicated applications, like Attain, and vertical specific apps are aplenty given the nature of CI being highly specialized to vertical markets. There are also quite a few apps showing up in Appexchange that claim CI capabilities. Lastly, there is a really complicated dynamic of marketing organizations, traditional home to CI apps, believing they need security with an on-premise app but at the same time having little prioritization with IT, so selling a hosted CI app to marketing groups is not always a downhill race.
I, simply put, love the functionality that Rivalmap gives me along with a pleasing user experience that is drop dead easy. I can bookmark away, build profiles and comparisons, and encourage discussion through online commenting. The daily email digest is a great way to stay in front of your internal audience and build participation. Getting people involved and active in an app like this is the single biggest challenge you will face… we’re still working on it
An important point to make is that I use this for a lot more than tracking competitors, I build workspaces for topics I want to track. The ability to clip anything with the aide of a simple bookmarketlet makes this a super streamlined app to use on a regular basis, it works like I do instead of having to go through a time consuming multi-step process just to bookmark pages.
Once clipped, a link can have it’s own comment thread and be assigned to workspaces, categories, competitors, and tagged. The integrated search makes finding items very easy, and at every opportunity there are tag clouds, indexes, and suggested keywords to make things easy.
For workgroups there is multi-user with a smart role-based security model makes the app very agreeable for group usage, and includes reporting to reveal the most active users. Integration with existing identity systems, or an OpenID approach would be a nice addition but for small workgroups this isn’t a big deal.
Rivalmap isn’t perfect but Andrew and Kris are rapidly iterating it to improve the functionality and add entirely new functions. From my point of view the important thing is that the application is highly functional, easily accessible, and leaves only small gaps in functionality. There are some functions, like the Comparison stuff, that I’ve only played around with but believe to have really good potential so we’ll grow into it.