Collaboration Platform PBWorks Gets A Real-Time Makeover

Startup PBWorks, which was formally known as PBwiki, specializes in helping businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions collaborate via wikis. The startup has steadily added innovative, real-time features to its platform, most recently integrating Twitter-like microblogging.

Today, PBworks is entering the stream by adding real-time functionality and voice collaboration within the application. PBWorks is adding four new features to its suite:

Instant Messaging

The startup is adding IM functionality to the application, which looks and operates just like Gchat. The platform allows PBWorks users in their organization to send them instant messages from within the product. Users can also request for co-workers to look at the workspace page they’re working on using the “send a link” function built into the IM system.

Live Notifications

Similar to notifications in a Facebook stream, PBWorks is adding Live Notifications alerts, which lets users know the different activity within their organization in real-time. Users can select which notifications they want to receive, based on their preferences (known as “starring” or “following” particular pages), and the system will stream relevant notifications to whatever page a user is viewing. The notifications provide a link to whatever the employee is working on.

Live Editing

PBWorks is now upgrading its collaboration features by adding a the ability for users to share a PBworks editing session. So whenever a user is editing a workspace page, other users viewing that page see the edits appear in real-time as well as participate in edits.

Voice Collaboration

Conference calls are a daily part of any business’s day-to-day operations and PBWorks is now allowing this to take place within its application. Users can initiate an instant conference call by dialing several participants at the same time. Each conference call is recorded and stored for later review, which is an extremely useful feature. Voice Collaboration can even be triggered via PBWorks using an iPhone.

PBworks, which had an overhaul of its user interface and features last year, offers businesses with a project management application and a customized wiki workspace, with mobile support, document management, access controls and more. The incorporation of real-time functionality as a natural extension of PBWorks makes the platform a whole lot more attractive, as more and more enterprise-focused startups are adding real-time features to applications. So if a user is editing a page and realizes that he or she needs the input of other team members, the user can request fellow employees to join the appropriate page using IM Collaboration, start a Live Editing session, and use Voice Collaboration to initiate an instant conference call.

Currently, PBworks manages 50,000 wiki groups with over 3 million users and has accumulated a loyal client base. The company serves teams at over a third of the Fortune 500, and was home to three presidential campaigns, the United Nations, The Financial Times and Harvard University.

Like Salesforce, PBworks is a paid subscription service, with no advertising. The company has raised nearly $2.5 million in funding, with its most recent funding round of $2.1 million announced in 2007. Competitors include Microsoft Sharepoint, Jive, and Socialtext.

And of course, we can draw comparisons to Google Wave, Google’s much-hyped new collaboration platform.