Mindjet has just launched a new collaboration platform that integrates its leading mind mapping application with secure online workspaces and web conferencing to enable enhanced collaboration and innovation. Focused upon the needs of business teams, the aptly-named Mindjet Catalyst aims to help knowledge workers to save time, improve business processes and drive innovation. It enables real-time edititing of maps, web conferencing and makes it easy to share your maps with your network of contacts – including via popular social media services like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
When you first login to Catalyst, you can manage your maps, workspaces and shared content, as well as start or schedule a web conference. Mindjet has also thoughtfully integrated a set of tips to help new users get comfortable with working in this well-designed web collaboration suite. A centrally displayed set of icons enables you to jump into common business tasks, such as planning a project, running a meeting or creating a to-do list. This should be especially helpful to new users. Clicking one of the activity-focused icons launches MindManager Web with a template appropriate to that task.
New: Real-time editing of mind maps
MindManager Web launched last year, along with Mindjet’s first-generation collaboration platform, Connect. The biggest change to this web-based mapping application is that it now supports real-time editing of mind maps. That means you and several colleagues can quickly build and refine a shared map, significantly increasing your team’s productivity. MindManager Web uses tooltip pop-ups to indicate who added what to the map. You can now easily conduct a group brainstorming session in Catalyst and then download the resulting team map into the desktop version of MindManager for further analysis and tweaking. Nice!
When you’re creating a mindmap, tools for sharing and collaboration are always close at hand: a vertical pane on the left side of the workspace enables you to manage your workspaces and map sharing, while a similar panel on the right side handles web conferencing on the right side. Catalyst supports basic text chat, while an enhanced version enables a more sophisticated toolbox, including Voice Over IP (VOIP), video conferencing, application sharing file transfers, whiteboard and recording of sessions. Users can initiate an unlimited number of web conferences and invite up to 15 people to each meeting.
One of the shortcomings of working within a web-based mind mapping application is the menus that enable you to enhance and embellish your maps also tend to reduce the area available to display the map itself. To overcome this limitation, you can now close the application’s tabs and menus to create a larger workspace.
Map sharing – on steroids
One of the most exciting aspects of Catalyst is the many ways in which it enables you to share your maps beyond Catalyst. In our web 2.0-enabled world, it’s easy to share videos and other digital content in blogs, on Facebook, Twitter and other community-oriented web services. So why not mind maps? The MindManager Web interface now includes a “share” button. When you click it, a dialog box pops up that asks you how you want to share your map. Supported services include:
- Y! Bookmarks
- Plus over 150 other web-based tools and services
Catalyst manages all of this sharing by sending a link to an interactive version of your map (read only, but you can expand and contract map branches and all of the web page links work), which is rendered using the Mindjet Player (embedded with an enhanced PDF file). At this point in time, shared maps are read only, but Mindjet plans to enable sharing of fully editable mind maps in the near future. Also in the works: tight system integration with CRM systems and Microsoft’s popular SharePoint teamware
What’s very cool for map creators is that Catalyst gives you a high level of control over the sharing of your content. When you click on the “My Shared Content” menu item, Catalyst displays a list of all of the maps you have shared, and enables you to edit or delete any of them at any time. If you remove a shared map from the list, it will no longer be accessible to others, no matter what social media application, blogging platform or other source they had previously used to access it. Very slick!
Users of MindManager desktop software aren’t left out of this new revolution in visual mapping collaboration. MindManager 8 for Mac OS X will have Catalyst map sharing built right into it. And the Windows version of MindManager will add a Catalyst tab to its ribbon. Existing Mindjet Connect accounts will be moved over to Catalyst.
The bottom line
So what’s the bottom line? What will this cost you? $25 per user per month, plus an additional $25 per moderator per month for the web conferencing components. Mindjet says it is aiming Catalyst squarely at the needs of small to medium-sized businesses who currently aren’t using any collaborative tools. It’s also ideal for geographically dispersed enterprise teams. If you’re new to mind mapping, it’s also an affordable way for you to try out a web-based version before investing in a desktop application like MindManager.
I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s next from Mindjet and the Catalyst collaboration platform – and how people will use it to get work done smarter and faster!