Many factors go in to running a successful business: great ideas and great workers are essential. In an age when technology and business go hand in hand, it is important to provide a place for the two to come together to maximize their effectiveness. Central Desktop, a web-based, wiki-enabled collaboration tool was designed to do just that. It allows small and medium businesses to provide a workspace that is accessible to anyone in their company, anywhere, at anytime.
Founded in May 2005, Central Desktop's main focus was to bring business teams together online and to make sure they have the tools to collaborate both inside and outside their organizations. Today, Central Desktop released an updated and enhanced version of its solution. This release follows Central Desktop’s April announcement that it had raised $7 million in first round investment funding from Open View Venture Partners, which it used to accelerate research and development. This version expands on Central Desktop's initial goal of offering an affordable, yet feature-rich collaborative workspace, by adding an enhanced database, a time-tracking feature, and a support application.
Isaac Garcia, CEO of Central Desktop, says that what differentiates Central Desktop from other programs is that it is "bringing a lot of tools under one umbrella and allowing users to connect to a lot of applications both inside and outside Central Desktop."
The ability to access multiple applications, like Excel or Word, is an important part of Central Desktop's functionality. The database API allows user to connect their database to any other tool that sits outside Central Desktop. Users are able to integrate data from other applications, such as Salesforce.com, as well as export information from their workspace such as HTML pages, documents, and zip files. As Garcia explains, "once the information is in the database, you can do anything you want with it." This enhanced database opens the door for Central Desktop to become a central hub for users.
Other improved features include a time-tracking application, and a help and support application. The time-tracking feature empowers users to capture custom data into user-defined fields, to attach time specific information to a task and create timesheets and reports. The help and support application, a feature that Garcia says is very important to Central Desktop customers, allows users to track support desk tickets and open and close help desk incidents.
New features found in this summer’s release also add to Central Desktop's basic functions. Users can utilize tabs such as tasks, calendar, documents and discussions, and milestone. The tasks tab allows users to see a list of upcoming activities or scroll down to see an overview of what is happening in their workspace. This tab can also be used to assign tasks, see recurring tasks, and view project goals. When a task is completed, users can check them off under the milestone tab.
Central Desktop's calendar tab is a work group centric calendar relative to the projects a user is working on and can be viewed in other applications. Under the documents and discussions tab, users have the ability to upload a file and then add to a discussion or comment thread. These comments can either be viewed as an RSS feed, in an email, or through logging into the workspace. Users can also get file previews and run a full text search.
Central Desktop offers a 30-day free trial period, during which users can create two workspaces and store up to 25 megabytes of data. After the 30-day trial, the number of workspaces available depends on the plan a business chooses (plans range from $25 to $500 a month). There are three basic types of workspaces: team, company, and public; Central Desktop also offers additional security options for $99 a month.
Central Desktop’s goal is not to sell to IT departments, but to focus its energy on making collaboration easier for small to medium businesses and the people who run them. "Some people don't have the time or know-how to deploy what Sharepoint has been offering," says Garcia. "People say they need something that can start working today."