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Open Source for the Enterprise by Gautam Guliani, Dan Woods

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Appendix D. Groupware, Portals, and Collaboration

We define groupware as software that allows the people in an enterprise to participate in three broad classes of activity:

Communication

Activities involving information and data sharing. Email, of course, is the primary medium of communication. In some instances, sharing information in a more structured manner, such as via discussion threads and by keeping archives and making them searchable, adds value to the information. Discussion forums (also called bulletin boards) are a popular and effective medium for this type of activity. Weblogs and Wiki Webs are emerging media that also address needs in distributed, non-real-time communications. Perhaps weblogs and Wikis are popular because they are lightweight, are easy to use, and have few access control restrictions. For more immediate and real-time communications, instant messaging solutions are appropriate. Use of instant messaging in the enterprise is a recent phenomenon, and best practices in this area are still unclear. Because of the disruptive nature of real-time communication, options such as instant messaging should be used sparingly.

Collaboration

A process that seeks to build and develop a shared understanding that the collaborating parties did not have at the beginning of the process. Document sharing, Wikis, and discussion forums are popular ways of collaborating.

Coordination

Coordination introduces order to collaboration activities. Workflows, task delegation, and notifications ...

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