Butterfly is a user-centric, social platform for the enterprise and aimed at project/company collaboration. What exactly does that mean? It means that it will be a web based application based around the users, trying to learn from the way people use popular web2.0 social applications and bring some of the efficiencies and behaviourial traits demonstarted there to enterprise software.
Basically, I have been thinking for some time about how some of the software and websites that people use in everyday life, and that they enjoy using, could be used in an enterprise setting - sites like facebook, twitter, wiki etc are hugely popular and have incredible user return rates, so why does all enterprise software suck so much? We have seen WiKis used in enterprise settings (with varying degrees of success) and there have been several places attempts to setup social networks within large companies, but they all seem to be wildly missing the point.
So you want to make Facebook for Businesses?
A lot of people seem to be heading in with the mindset "people are on Facebook all day long.. so we should make our own internal version, and that will be great for collaboration and getting our people connected!". Sorry. But. No.
It doesn't take a lot of thought to see that the drivers that motivate people to use sites like Facebook do not, and cannot be applied to business settings. Its a very different social setting, and what makes a user post pictures of their weekend, or post comments/status about what they are doing doesn't apply in a business setting. The same goes for blogging, very few people really want read work related blogs of the co-workers.
So what am I trying to do? Whilst the settings are very different, and the motivations to make people do things very different, there are still efficiencies in the way people use sites like Facebook and Twitter that I believe can and should be utilised in enterprise software.
So What are these percieved Benefits?
I have worked on several large project deliveries, across multiple sites, with teams spread across several continents, and the software stack for collaboration, communication and status report are crap. For one, there always seem to be several different (often web based) applications that I need to use to complete a variety of simple tasks. I am looking to bring all these common tasks in to a single user-centric application (when I say user-centric, I just mean an application that is based around the user's profile, and reflects their activity and relationships within the company).
As well as moving the tasks to a single central point of view, I am also looking to streamline cross project communication, rolling in concepts such as user "status" (a bit like a tweet - a character limited status), questions (specific communication to allow users to ask questions to individuals/teams/anyone), traditional web based email.
Finally, to bring it all together, the application will capture company heirarchy/org charts so users (and management) can easily navigate through team structures and relationships and quickly and easily understand the status/workload of given teams/individuals in a flash.