One of the areas in which Traction and Newsgator have got it so right is in understanding the specific needs of a corporate environment. When I first started using FeedDemon (version 1.3 I think?), I could immediately see the potential benefits for other people in my organisation. But having spent quite a while as a sysadmin, I could also see that it wouldn’t work in a broad rollout because:

  • No support for users moving from one machine to another.
  • No way of mandating which internal newsfeeds groups of users should subscribe to.
  • No mechanism for easily installing FeedDemon with appropriate settings on large numbers of PCs.
  • No support for different platforms, e.g. mobile, other OS, etc.
  • Additional load on corporate bandwidth.
  • No reports of corporate newsfeed subscriptions etc.
  • Account management integrated with internal network (AD or whatever).

When FeedDemon joined up with Newsgator, and then Newsgator announced Newsgator Enterprise Server (NGES), I could see that this was an idea which would now work for large organisations. All feed subscription information is stored on a central server, allowing roaming use and alternative client platforms. Bandwidth is not an issue and reporting is pretty comprehensive. Newsfeed subscriptions can be mandated for groups of users from the centre. I’d argue that FeedDemon still has a bit of work to do in the ease of rollout area – it would be nice to be able to pre-set more options in the config file – but otherwise it’s working very well as our default NGES client.

The thing that impressed me was that Newsgator had understood what a large organisation needs, much more so than any of the competition. Google News just doesn’t cut it. (Incidentally, I wish someone would create a Google Mail clone which “gets” the corporate mindset as much as NGES does – I would *love* to have a tag-based corporate email system…)

So my next step was to find software which our staff could use to generate internal newsfeeds for people to use with NGES. I messed about with various (free and not-free) options. Again, there was a certain basic set of features which were absent from most products because they didn’t understand the large-orgnisation mindset:

  • Account management integrated with internal network.
  • Scalable to fairly large numbers of areas of interest, while keeping a common navigation system.
  • Fine-grained delegation of rights.
  • Low level of sysadmin involvement.
  • End-users create the structure.

And that’s what led us to use Traction. WordPress or whatever is great when you’re doing a wee externally-accessible blog, but when we tried to use it on a grander scale it was just too difficult to manage. Sharepoint is far too difficult for end-users to use, doesn’t scale well and requires an awful lot of admin effort. Traction, like NGES, just intuits what’s important for us.

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