Smart devices have made the world a much smaller place. At all times, we have the ability to connect with friends, family, and colleagues. Never before in the history of business, has real-time collaboration between offices and individuals located across the world from each other been so attainable for businesses of all sizes. As our ability to connect has grown, fast and complex collaboration has become a requirement to stay on the cutting edge in competitive industries. This will get even more intense with the arrival of virtual reality.
If you don’t have enough buzzwords in your arsenal, the latest you should be aware of is visual collaboration. Wikipedia defines it as follows:
Visual collaboration, often confused with video conferencing, is the concept of technology-enabled collaboration that can involve multiple sources brought together into an environment that is accessible from multiple devices in multiple locations. Video conferencing often requires scheduled sessions and lacks the ability for the sharing of content within the ‘conversation’ or from multiple sources simultaneously.
It sounds like soon we’re going to be moving from boring one-sided 2-dimensional Webex meetings to 3-dimensional visual collaboration rooms where everyone interacts and shares. Here is a list of 9 visual collaboration companies to keep an eye on in 2017.
Prysm is headquartered in Silicon Valley and was founded in 2005 by Roger Hajjar and Amit Jain. To date the company has accepted $147.56 million through three rounds of equity funding, including their most recent funding of $100 million in October, 2011.
Prysm’s software allows users to engage in real-time collaboration in the Prysm Visual Workplace from any mobile device or desktop computer and display high resolution presentations on large screens and interactive video walls. Typical Prysm use cases include company meetings, engaging presentations, and aesthetics.
Prysm’s success has been driven by their partnerships with companies and organizations like Sprint, Under Armour, Millennium Tower in Boston, and GDT. Prysm goes a step farther than most of its competitors in the space by not only developing the software solution, but working with companies to design screens and video walls that maximize the software’s usefulness and potential in a given setting. Prysm is ideal for large companies that are delivering information and data to larger audiences.
Oblong Industries is a visual collaboration software company. In October 2016, Oblong announced that they had accepted $65 million in funding, bringing them to a total of $103.73 million through 7 rounds of equity funding to date. The company stated that the investment will allow them to improve product development, innovate more quickly, and aggressively expand into new territories.
Their software, Mezzanine, aims to make visual collaboration easy. It offers detailed data visualization allowing teams to quickly and easily share information, analyze data, and work on problems collaboratively – no matter where they are located. Mezzanine offers complete 3D visualizations, multi-screen (and location) support, and collaborative data sharing among teams. Teams around the world can view and contribute to the same presentation, while communicating through Mezzanine’s conference rooms.
Oblong’s software allows teams to interact in real-time, using their own devices that include desktop PCs, laptops, mobile devices and tablets. Mezzanine is available for both iOS and Android. Oblong’s investment interest and growth has been powered by the company’s ability to find a foothold by partnering with companies in a variety of industries that include business consulting, emergency management, financial services, healthcare, marketing, and fossil fuels.
Mersive is a visual computing company that was founded in 2006 by Stephen Webb and Christopher Jaynes. They specialize in wireless visual collaboration, allowing creative teams to create, control, and share presentations through an unlimited number of devices. To date, they have accepted $11.25 million in equity funding through five rounds of investment. Their flagship product, Solstice, allows an unlimited number of users to share, edit, and collaborate with any type of content from any device.
Mersive also offers an Enterprise Edition of their software which provides a range of new features that include a centralized, one-to-many management dashboard, quality of service features, an API for third-party apps, encryption for traffic, and many more customization options.
The company has been able to position themselves as a leader in the visual collaboration industry by focusing heavily on partnerships within the education sector. The company has partnered with institutions like the North Carolina State University College of Design and Broward College to bring their software to students on campus.
Bluescape was founded in 2012, and has disclosed $7.5 million in funding to date. The company has developed a cloud-based, real-time visual collaboration platform that focuses on data visualization. The cloud-based solution is accessible through desktop PCs and mobile devices (iOS and Android) through apps and a browser based solution, allowing an unlimited number of users to collaborate on projects in real-time, using a shared workspace. From the company itself:
Bluescape is a visual collaboration platform that helps companies create better. Accessible from any device, its persistent virtual workspace lets teams see the whole picture. Working with the tools you already love, Bluescape connects people across distances and disciplines to ideate, design, refine, and build plans and processes.
Bluescape also offers advanced audio and video conferencing features, allowing users to directly interface with global teams in a single work environment. Bluescape is designed to scale to enterprise requirements, offering advanced features that enable global collaboration.
SharpCloud is headquartered in London, England, and has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop visual communication and collaboration software for enterprises. The company has focused heavily on data visualization, allowing for the importation, customization and automated visualization of large data-sets in seconds. Additionally, their SharpCloud API makes the process simple, allowing for customized seamless synchronization across devices.
SharpCloud features a drag-and-drop visual interface that shows how each element of a project relates to other elements in regard to time, strategy, and roadmaps. Their train-of-thought-style interface is ideal for planning complex projects and brainstorming with a large team, all of whom can collaborate and communicate through a shared interface.
SharpCloud’s collaborative features include a nested commenting system, real-time collaboration on project elements, and the ability for administrators to monitor user activities through the system.
Osiris Systems (formerly Jokerpack) is a South Korean company that develops BeeCanvas, a collaborative visual workspace that allows teams to keep all of their notes, data, and files in one location, allowing for seamless real-time collaboration. To date the company has raised $209,160 in one round of funding.
Osiris Systems has focused primarily on creative projects targeting designers, writers, and creative companies. The BeeCanvas software allows users to engage in real-time instant message chats about elements within a project, edit and share files instantly, and add markup to existing project elements. Forbes called the software a “whiteboard for graphic and visually driven project, with a ‘refrigerator’ to store important elements or items.”
ReviewStudio is a Canadian company that was founded in 2006 and has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a creative, collaborative platform for reviewing creative projects. The software allows for real-time collaboration on project elements with detailed in-depth features for all types of media. The software allows for both independent and live reviews, allowing organizations to collaborate at their own pace. ReviewStudio also offers centralized feedback and commenting, with advanced permissions settings for specific project elements. Each user has their own personalized dashboard, detailing all projects and project elements that they have been included in, with notifications for updates to those elements.
Conceptboard is an online visual collaboration solution for both small teams and enterprise. The company was founded in October, 2010, and has received 1 round of undisclosed seed funding to date.
Conceptboard focuses on providing web-based collaborative whiteboards that are accessible in the cloud from any device. Every element of a project allows for nested commenting and editing, with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Each Whiteboard can be as large or small as needed, with expandable canvases that allow teams to continually add new content to projects. Additionally, ConceptBoard also offers advanced permissions, ensuring that the right users have access to only the necessary assets. The software allows for real-time collaboration, interactive presentations, and video conferencing.
Conceptboard also offers an enterprise version of the software that features dedicated servers and on-premises installation. ConceptBoard is currently powering collaboration for companies like Adobe, GoDaddy, T Mobile, Oracle, and Corsair.
Realtime Board was founded in 2011, and has received an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a cloud-based, visual collaboration software that allows for teams to organize their workflow, brainstorming, and review processes on a virtual whiteboard using sticky notes. The Company has specifically included features aimed to aid agile project management.
Their software is designed to be flexible and customizable, allowing for teams of all sizes to brainstorm, collaborate, or plan and design complex projects. The simple drag-and-drop interface, pre-loaded project templates, and excellent integration features make it an easily-adoptable tool for teams of any size. The team at Realtime Board has focused heavily on integrations, and now offers integrations with popular apps like Slack, Jira, Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.
As companies look for new ways to innovate within their industries, facilitating collaboration and creativity is integral. The companies mentioned in this article are the industry leaders in the visual collaboration space, each offering in-depth real-time collaboration and creation features that allow teams large and small to work together toward a common goal. This is only going to gain more momentum as virtual reality becomes an essential part of virtual collaboration.
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