Application providers of all varieties are using activity streams. Microsoft announced this week that it is all in on social and will integrate Yammer into Sharepoint and Office 365. SOA Software uses an activity stream for people to collaborate on API management. Salesforce.com has Chatter while Tibco has Tibbr.
How the customer benefits makes the difference. I recently talked with Siasto Founder Niccolo Pantucci about the activity stream his company has added to its task-management service and what it brings Siasto’s customers.
He gave me five reason why they added the activity stream feature:
- As larger teams use Siasto, they need an easier way to see the larger picture.
- The amount of friction reduces when checking to see what is happening in a project. Pantucci says the activity stream has improved navigation for customers. Fewer clicks are needed for customers to get to tasks and updates.
- Internal email gets removed and placed in the activity stream. A customer can check one feed and stay in sync with their team and the overall organization.
- The passive user can casually observe projects without having to get involved.
- Activity streams provide a lightweight way to collaborate.
The activity stream is becoming a standard feature for modern applications, but it is by no means a fully developed feature that has met its full potential.
Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said to me in an interview that activity streams are hot with vendors but he calls bullshit. Activity streams mean more overload. People still have to manage an email inbox in addition to keeping track of the stream.
The stream needs to get more predictive. The data in the activity stream does not get analyzed. It just flows down the page. There are so many ways that data can get used. What is the next innovation in the activity stream UI?
Companies like Siasto have added more to the customer experience with activity streams. What Siasto needs to do next is take the activity stream to the next level by adding such features as visualizations, color coding and threaded streams. Without new enhancements, people will feel as overwhelmed as ever.