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Mashed Up MindManager

I came back from two days of intense mashup fever at the Mashup Camp 2 in Mountain View last week.  The big question that I wanted to answer is how can MindManager be an effective mashup enabler?  I got some ideas from the sessions that I attended and the discussions that I participated in.  Because Mindjet’s primary focus has always been on business users, I focused on finding web service vendors who are also looking for business users. On a side note, our user base in education and the consumer space has grown steadily thanks to our Mac product, our educational distributors, and educational discounts.  Before I go into talking about what interested me, I wanted to walk through a fictional scenario of what a mashup could be:

A small business owner, Hal has a residential remodeling business where he does sales, marketing, and management – a very busy guy!  Sally contacts Hal because she wants to remodel her kitchen and wants some references in her area.  To do this, Hal must find his satisfied customers in her area, contact them to request their permission, and send Sally their contact information once he received permission from his satisfied customers.

To accomplish this, I would use MindManager to mashup a CRM system, a geographic mapping web service, a workflow processing system, and an email system and it would go like this:

  1. From MindManager, Hal would search his CRM system’s web service for all of his satisfied contacts with kitchen remodels in Sally’s county. 
  2. Hal would then use the addresses of those contacts to sort them by proximity to Sally’s home.
  3. Hal would want to see the list of contacts in a MindManager map and pick the ones that Hal thinks that are most appropriate.
  4. Hal would use my email system to send emails to those contacts (based on a specified template). 
  5. When Hal gets permission from those contacts, Hal receives notification that permission has been obtained.
  6. The mashup generates an email with the contact information and a map generated by the geographic mapping system with flags representing each contact’s home. 
  7. Hal reads over the email and send it to Sally.
  8. Hal stores informaition in my CRM system that those contacts agreed to be referrals for Sally’s job.

Technologies that can make this happen are:

  • Mindjet MindManager Pro 6 to act as the control dashboard for the process.  Because this workflow requires human interaction, we need a tool that can present and intereact with information in a way that people can understand and act upon.
  • Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) to act as the orchestrator of the workflow.  Before WWF, small businesses really did not have an option for workflow design and orchestration. (Please correct me if I’m wrong here.)
  • Yahoo Maps to calculate the distances and generate the map images.
  • Any email system (exchange, POP, IMAP, etc.) to send messages
  • Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or Salesnet to manage customer info information.

Of course, there would be some programming involved to make this happen, but in my role as product manager for the MindManager solution platform, I want to lower the bar for constructing these types of composite applications.  To do this, I need some real world scenarios, or use cases, to make sure that MindManager will be an optimal platform for solutions that our existing users and future users want.

What I liked at Mashup Camp:

  • StrikeIron: they have this Microsoft Excel add-in that integrates per-usage and subscription-based web services into Excel.  Browse the services to see if there are any that interest you and then contact StrikeIron to encourage them to port their Excel Add-in to MindManager.  Since Excel and MindManager have the same add-in architecture, this is not as difficult as it may seem.
  • Eventful.com: This is an online event and venue database that has a very well-documented web service API.  It is so well-documented that after having dinner with a group including Chris and Brian from Eventful.com, I went back to my hotel room and built a Research Service for the Office Research Task Pane and MindManager’s Research Accelerator.  You can install it either from MindManager or Microsoft Office’s Research Task Pane Research options link.  Use the service address http://www.mindjetlabs.com/evdb/Research.asmx
  • ElephantDrive.com: How would you like to have an online place to store your MindManager Maps and access it directly from MindManager?
  • PeopleAggregator: How can social networking combine with MindManager to create something really productive?  What questions can a really connected people network answer?

A great part about the Mashup camp was the Speed Geeking sessions (like speed dating), where 20 mashup developers (including me with the MindManager Research Accelerator) where we had 20 groups of five people spend five minutes each seeing a demonstration of each mashup.  I gave a total of about 30 back-to-back demos of MindManager with the Research Accelerator (as a search and research mashup) in two speed geeking sessions.  There was great interest in MindManager and what I was able to do with it, mashing up different search and research services.  The second day, I was able to demo the Eventful event search as well in the Research Accelerator at the speed geeking session.  I definitely came back from Mashup Camp with more questions than answers; but that’s a good thing.


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