My favorite part of any tech conference is the new product demos. At the Office 2.0 Conference, a parade of execs came to the stage to show off their Web-based business tools.
My top picks
Wufoo makes it easy to create online forms. Want to put a survey on your site? Collect e-mail addresses? Poll your users? Check out this tool; it looks fantastic. Pricing is based on the number of records collected.
Smartsheet is a "team task manager." It works a lot like a group spreadsheet, but there's more here. This tool lets you roll subprojects into bigger projects and makes it easy to request status updates from team members, including recurring updates (it will bug a person once a week, for example). The e-mail that users get is a form, and when they fill it out, it updates the Smartsheet project list. Looks like a very clean and useful tool.
Trovix is a recruiting and hiring tool. For each job opening, the user puts in some text in various fields (education, experience, and so on), and the system analyzes resumes and puts the most promising candidates at the top of the stack. The matching system does some language analysis; it doesn't just match keywords. Trovix reads PDF and Word files, so applicants don't have to submit their resumes into a Web form.
FreshBooks is an online invoicing service. It will also send invoices by snail mail if you want. New features include the capability for users to benchmark their collections performance (average revenue, time to get paid, and so on) against others' in their particular industry. I like this tool a lot; I covered it for the first time in August.
Vyew makes very cool--and free--collaboration and conference software. It makes it easy to share a presentation or a screen with others. New features to come include the capability to save presentations locally, for later offline editing, or as PowerPoint presentations. See my previous coverage.
Caspio makes site-building tools for the enterprise and small business. There are a lot of tools in this space (see recent coverage of SiteKreator and CogHead), but it's a big market: Every business needs a Web site. Caspio's database control looks an awful lot like Microsoft Access, but it runs completely over the Web. It looks like a very capable service.
Enterprise software giant BEA is showing a prealpha version of a tool to "collaboratively build business applications." Looks like a nice tool to build new apps on top of existing BEA installations. There's a blogging tool on this application, too, although how that integrates in with the application builder wasn't completely clear.
Synthasite is also a site builder. There are several prebuilt templates to get you started, but there's also the capability to let you build a site from scratch. It looks like a credible competitor to FrontPage and Dreamweaver.
Preezo is an online presentation tool--a Web-based PowerPoint competitor. The Demo looked great, but this is going to be a very crowded market. Preezo should launch in two weeks.
Koral is a content management system. Business users drop files into a Koral dropbox, and the system then suggests tags for them. To see files, users can use a Netvibes-like front page or search for tags, authors, or full text. Users can subscribe to tags or authors, too, which is interesting for businesses. Enterprise document management is a big market--and a big problem in most companies--and this looks like a fresh solution.
TechDirt is launching its Insight Community. It's an ad-hoc analyst network, where enterprises can reach out to blogger experts to get their opinions. Bloggers get paid for their private opinions, and TechDirt takes a cut of the action. Not a bad idea, especially considering the number of really smart bloggers out there who are not making a dime for their efforts.
Etelos is building a "store" where businesses can select various online applications, but it doesn't actually host them. Customers can select a third-party host on the Etelos service or host the apps on their own servers. Sounds like SalesForce.com's AppExchange, with a similar push to get third-party developers to build apps on the platform. The company's aversion to hosting applications itself is a little odd.
System One is a business wiki platform. The cool thing about it is that it collates related data and files (blogs, Web pages, e-mails) for each page and lists them at the bottom of every page.