RivalSoft and NewsGator Partner on Integrated Content

I wrote about RivalMap back in April, focusing on how we were using it and why it is valuable to my team. What I didn’t tell you then is that our early experiences as a user, which were a result of my work with Andrew going back to before I joined NewsGator, led to an interesting partnership opportunity that is being announced today.

“The addition of an automated news service, which makes use of NewsGator technologies, adds a new level of functionality to RivalMap,” said Kris Rasmussen, fellow Co-founder of RivalSoft. “RivalMap now brings together relevant news and feeds in one place where they can be harnessed collaboratively. RivalMap is tremendously valuable for companies that need to monitor their market and identify important updates and trends.”

[From RivalSoft Announces RivalMap(TM) 2.0 and Partnership With NewsGator -- New Web-Based Service Dramatically Improves How Companies Maintain Market Awareness]

The backstory is that we were using RivalMap and I mentioned to Andrew that having integrated news feeds would make clipping and tracking content a whole lot easier. Not surprisingly he said, to paraphrase, “yeah we have heard that from almost everyone” to which the opportunity to take advantage of NewsGator’s APIs for subscription management and content pulling was born.

What I really like about the RivalMap integration is 1) it’s a proof point that our APIs are complete and functional as the RivalMap team built this with little input from us and 2) integrated content in applications really does add value, I know because my last month of using the beta version with the content engine has been marked by dramatically richer usage of the service.

The RivalMap integration is also really smartly done. Rather than embedding a traditional RSS feed reader with clipping capabilities in the app, what they did was build a subscription management feature that you can use to add a specific feed URI to begin pulling content from, or search for feeds using keywords.

They have also taken advantage of our Smart Feeds, which are essentially persistent search feeds we publish based on a keyword or multiple keywords you provide. For example, a Smart Feed for “NewsGator” will pull in content dynamically from a wide range of sources, including the 2.8 million feeds we poll in our network to Twitter, FriendFeed, and Linkedin messages. It’s a very powerful feature that casts a very wide net across more content sources than any individual could track on their own.

The content presentation aspect is simple and to the point, it displays content from each data source and then collectively. What’s interesting is that the more I use this feature area the more I see small turns of the screw that can be made to make it even better and more broadly integrated into the app which leads me to conclude that integrated content is not just a bolt-on feature for content intensive apps but rather a deeply integrated strategic set of functions that form a foundation for services like this.

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Rivalmap – Competitive Intel

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.

200804102223.jpgI, 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.

200804102245.jpg 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.