At first, BGRI attempted to meet its needs with a website powered by traditional CMS software. While this worked “fine,” according to Nelson, it didn’t allow for any of the functionality that BGRI would need to turn its portal into an interactive community. So after further examining its options, the organization selected Traction Software’s TeamPage platform.
TeamPage is a collaboration and sfocial platform that combines a traditional wiki-style knowledgebase with a number of social media features. In addition to sharing knowledge through TeamPage’s wiki, users can create personal profiles to share information about their individual contributions and areas of expertise and to keep fellow users informed about the latest developments in their projects. The platform also allows users to configure access and user views based on customizable permissions, allowing a larger collaboration community to be divided up into smaller projects and ensuring that more sensitive information is only viewable by the correct users.
According to Traction Software president Greg Lloyd, much of the idea for the TeamPage platform grew out of the work of pioneering computer scientist Douglas Engelbart, one of the researchers involved with ARPANET, the first modern computer network and precursor to what would eventually become the internet.
Still, Lloyd was struck by the scope of BGRI’s problem. “When we talk about business customers and enterprise 2.0, we always talk about return on investment,” says Lloyd, adding that for enterprise users, a good return on investment might mean something like getting a product to market 6 months faster than is otherwise possible. “Here’s an example where getting things to market faster is measured in thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Of course, hosting all that information means very little if users can’t find what they’re looking for. And although TeamPage can perform basic text-based search, much of the information available to BGRI comes in the form of attachments such as Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, and PDFs. To handle this wealth of formats, BGRI chose to add a search module powered by Attivio’s enterprise search technology. This optional add-on to the TeamPage platform includes additional search functionality such as page ranking algorithms, automatic keyword extraction, and the ability to handle more than 370 document formats.