Interview with Markus Hegi, Founder & CEO Colayer
Markus Hegi: Communications today mainly occur within different tools. The problem is fragmentation of information and this leads to multiple inconsistent copies of the same information.
We want to challenge Google wherever we are strong. We leave the private user to Google. For Google, it is much simpler to serve the private user than for us. Their business model is to link user content to relevant advertisements. Colayer does not know about the users and basically we don’t care about the user’s content.
Markus Hegi: Our competition is not Google Wave – our competition is the old way of communicating and working together.
Markus Hegi: Google helps us in the paradigm shift of how we use different communication types. (laughs) Yes, we are happy that Google entered the market. It was often very difficult to be alone in the market with such a concept.
Markus Hegi: The more successful Google is, the more successful Colayer will be. Google is a market educator and a market maker for us! Riding the Google Wave, users will understand the paradigm shift. And, Google has a long way to go too.
Markus Hegi: Yes, it has been a long journey and we have had to learn many things along the way. For example, we started in 2000 with the slogan “email will be dead soon”. Google however starts with
“What might e-mail look like if it were invented today? “. This is smarter and more convincing, as it is a positive message and hence it is easier to understand. As a small company, we have been able to convince customers and partners about Colayer’s concepts, but not the whole world. We therefore have been focusing on the corporate market.
The demo of Google Wave looked very impressive. But if the different tools are simply merged, a huge amount of information is created, yet it misses the importance of structuring. Imagine, for example a large project team or a full company starting to use Google Wave for its daily communication. Soon the participants will end up in a nearly endless ocean of waves. How can any participant get a quick overview of what is new or what is really relevant to them
The content of a chat for example, the “Hello, how are you, and how is the weather” does not have the same relevance as for example: the outcome of a meeting, the decisions made, a final document or lists of open questions or open tasks.
But how do you map relevancy?
Markus Hegi: We have been in the market since 2000 and we have learned, together with our customers and partners, how to handle complex communication. Colayer has developed tools to structure large amounts of data according to its relevance and its importance. And Colayer gives different levels of abstraction and views to different users. One of our customers runs a project with more than 300 contributors in 20 countries.
If you create a merged communication system with chat, email, document management and more tools, like issue management etc, you need to provide many ways to structure the communications. And you also need tools to provide individual views of that communication. Once a chat is over, probably only the results of it matters, not the detailed conversations. If needed, any user can re-open the chat and read parts of it to understand the results. Hence, the outcome of a chat, the decisions made, proposals and questions are seen by all team members. Middle and upper management see only final decisions and milestones
Where is Google Wave better than Colayer?
Markus Hegi: I like their ajax-rich user interface and the speed of their “real time”. While one person is typing, the other person sees it letter by letter. Also the co-editing of documents is well done. Multiple users can write at the same time into a document and every user can see what another user is currently writing. Another cool feature is the the play-back: You can actually rewind a wave and play it step-by-step.
Where is the business value of Colayer today for your customers?
Markus Hegi: First of all, our customers save considerable time and expense with Colayer. How much time is wasted today with filtering spam, structuring emails, re-contextualizing information and sorting out important from unimportant, urgent from non urgent information? And how much time is wasted with searching emails and with requests to re-send an email, because we simply cannot find it anymore.
Executives and professionals become more productive working with Colayer in a clear context, because they are now able to easily communicate from any media, anytime, anywhere and still within the context – even over SMS, if required.
Imagine, you are in an important meeting and you simply need some numbers from one of your colleagues. He however is traveling and currently not reachable by phone or via email. Hence, you send him or her an SMS, as well as an email within the context. And as soon as he gets either, he will answer you, for example, with his iPhone through email, or on Colayer with the phone web browser. And maybe he attaches a graphic to his answer. His answer goes back into the exact context, and you get an alert during the ongoing meeting and are able to discuss the numbers.
What will be the future development of such tools?
Markus Hegi: Today’s Intranet will be replaced through or enhanced by tools like Google Wave or Colayer. Professionals want to get condensed, relevant information. They want to be updated in real time of what is going on and be able to react instantly. Today’s Intranet however is mostly too rigid to cope with the dynamism of professional communication, hence not used much.
Colayer provides the overview needed by professionals about what is really important. And it contains a variety of tools to interact with and facilitates efficient work flow. Colayer based Intranets are highly interactive communication and work tools, and become the ‘virtual organization’. Individuals need the ‘creative chaos’ to develop new ideas and be innovative. And companies need a tool to structure and channel this creative chaos. That’s what we do with Colayer.