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Business critical collaboration with Annekathrin Hase from MindLink Software

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 23 January 2014

Social Media Portal (SMP) interview with Annekathrin Häse from MindLink

Annekathrin Häse on marketing MindLink Software and the impact of social media on business critical collaboration platforms

MindLink Software logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at MindLink Software?

Annekathrin Häse (AH): I’m Annekathrin Häse, director of strategy and marketing at MindLink. I oversee the company’s go-to-market strategy, marketing and branding activities across the globe.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about MindLink Software (for those that don’t know), what is it and what does company do?

AH: MindLink is a business critical collaboration platform that allows teams to coordinate and exchange information and knowledge in real-time across the business.

We offer an instant messaging, presence and persistent group chat tool for companies that already have Microsoft Lync and want to take business collaboration to the next level.

Photograph of Annekathrin Häse, director of strategy and marketing at MindLink SoftwareSMP: Why did the founders create the software - what is the vision for the company and what it does?

AH: MindLink builds on a 10-year heritage. Initially we started out as a systems integrator for Microsoft Parlano. So if you wanted to implement a group chat solution, we were the right people for it.

In 2011 we spun out of our mother company, Formicary, to focus solely on providing advanced, purposeful collaboration solutions to businesses and educate them about the immense value those technologies can have on the way people work. We rebranded to MindLink and are now focusing solely on persistent chat and collaboration.

SMP: When was the company founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?

AH: MindLink is a software start-up, founded in 2011 with about 25 employees. We are privately funded, but are looking for external growth capital to aggressively expand in the coming year.

SMP: How was the name of the company chosen, who are your target audience and why?

AH: It is really pretty straight-forward: linking the minds of the company together to leverage the collective knowledge and drive business forward. And voila: MindLink.

We target companies, small and large, that already have Microsoft Lync and want to leverage investment to enhance collaboration within their enterprises.

SMP: Why is real-time collaboration so important to businesses (and how does your software assist in doing this)?

AH: The way people work has changed dramatically in the last five years. The world is more global and information needs to travel across time zones and team boundaries much faster. Real-time is what people expect today.

Email is still used as a default tool but many are struggling and are looking for new ways, better ways. With MindLink, knowledge, data, file or link sharing happens instantly in a secure and structured way that also allows you to filter information.

SMP: Collaborative software maybe great, but how to you ensure clients use it, so that they benefit fully?

AH replies with:

  1. Make the technology user friendly. The design is of utmost importance. If people find it easy to use, they will, well, use it.

  2. Integrate, Integrate, Integrate. We all have so many systems we need to log in and out of every day: Outlook, CRM, ERP and portals. A collaboration tool needs to be able to be embedded into other systems and link to them so that data can be fed in and out seamlessly and people don’t have yet another system to remember a password for.

  3. It’s not all about the technology.  people need to remember that it is about changing how people work. So this is a change/ cultural initiative and needs to be managed as any other company change program.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at MindLink Software?

AH: There is a lot of confusion in the market. People like the idea of collaboration and what it can do, but there is hesitation. Mainly around questions such as: Who owns the initiative, which tools to choose (one tool doesn’t fit all), how to roll it out, what benefits to expect and how to measure them. Lots of questions. We always recommend to build a specific use case first, roll it out, gain buy-in and go from there.

MindLink Software all devices image

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

AH: ROI stories! There is nothing better than a client telling you: Hey guys, we actually just measured that we cut Email by 75% or decreased our support cost by 25%. That’s when you realise how much potential lies in collaborative technologies.

SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for MindLink Software?

AH: In terms of social collaboration we of course use our own persistent chat tool in the office and when we are on the move. I have group chats set up for all my projects, teams and geographies.

In terms of social media, we are using Twitter (you can follow us on #MindLinkSoft), Google+, LinkedIn and Youtube.

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?

AH: We are taking a consultative approach and bring a lot of thought leadership to the table. LinkedIn has been a successful channel, engaging and sharing through user groups and discussion forums. YouTube is also great to share new digital content. We just did a series of videos to explain what is critical collaboration, persistent chat and what we do.

In terms of our clients, they are obviously on the forefront of using and leveraging collaboration technologies. Redburn Partners, an equity broker, for instance has a very high adoption rate and implemented a collaboration initiative by the book.  It combines the MindLink collaboration solution with their Microsoft OCS, Dynamics CRM and SharePoint portal to create a seamless and an integrated experience.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities (and challenges/ opportunities your clients may face)?

AH: The opportunities that collaborative technologies yield are enormous: fast access to information, better decision making, knowledge recording and in more concrete terms: increased employee engagement, less email, higher operational efficiency. Depending on your business you can record everything from lower support cost to higher product launch rates or shorter sales cycles.  

The challenges are usually the same: who owns the initiative, what tools to choose and how to roll it out, how to measure ROI.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon the MindLink Software brand presence in digital environments (including social media)?

AH: It is all about finding the right channels and engaging our audience with great content. The latter varies greatly – sometimes IT takes the lead in collaborative initiatives, sometime business owners, sometimes HR…we need to engage a multitude of channels to reach those audiences.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding collaborative software and what impact is social media having upon this for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AH: Collaborative technologies are disrupting the way businesses and people work. They redefine how knowledge and information flows, no longer locking it up in employees’ heads or Email inboxes. There is a move from the ‘power of what I know’ to the ‘power of what WE know’.

Time zones, physical boundaries, organisational silos – they will all become irrelevant, as the world grows smaller.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for collaborative software for the 12 to 18-months and why?

AH replies with:

  1. It will find wide spread adoption.  This is a double-edged sword. There are the companies that don’t have anything in place, which poses a problem in particular with the millennials joining the workforce. If you don’t have a tool in place they will create their own networks. And an unmanaged, unsecure tool is really not what you want.
    And then there are companies who already have collaborative tools in place e.g. a portal but where adoption is lacking. Either way collaboration tools will move from a nice-to-have to a must-have tool that will penetrate all angles of the company.

  2. Mobility.  People are more mobile. They expect flexible working and are constantly on the move. Having tools that work on the desktop only are a thing of the past. Whatever technology you chose it needs to work on mobile devices and tablets.

  3. Integration.  As mentioned above, people don’t want to constantly log in and out of systems. Advanced integration with external social channels and internal systems will become a requirement.

  4. Move beyond technology.  Collaboration will become a strategy. Having the tools is great but leveraging them is a different story. Change agents and champions will be appointed, HR will create policies, and leadership from the top will really drive adoption. It will become a new way people work.

  5. Voice. Combing collaboration tools with voice technology will come into its own. Text-based and voice-based combined really gives you the power to collaborate in whatever way you chose.
MindLink Software iPad image

SMP: What are your top five tips for choosing collaborative software and what baring does social media have on this?

AH replies with:

  1. Be sure how you want to use it. Are you looking for social collaboration e.g. microblogging or more casual-oriented tools or a purposeful collaboration tool for critical operations and data?

  2. Have a mix of tools. One size doesn’t fit all. We see the best approach is to combine a portal, social tool and a purposeful tool to cover all use cases that you may find within a company.

  3. Have an IT and a Business owner.  Combining both will make sure it not only fits in with your current IT infrastructure and integrations, but delivers real and measurable value to your teams.

  4. Treat it as an ongoing strategy.  Don’t just implement a technology and leave it at that. Like any change program it needs some TLC: training, feedback cycles, champions…

  5. Measurable ROI.  Businesses will be looking to associate more bottom line impact to their collaborative tools.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

AH: We are keen to spread the word about collaboration technologies. Check out our blog and feel free to contribute.

SMP: Best way to contact you and MindLink Software?

AH: Just drop me a note at annekathrin.hase @, follow us @mindlinksoft or visit our website.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

AH: A hot chocolate and a vanilla coffee. I know not very substantial but lunch will be better.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

AH: I brought some German marzipan good luck charms into the office to kick off the New Year (and supply some sugary treats).

SMP: If you weren’t running or working on MindLink Software what would you be doing?    

AH: I’d probably be working in science. Astrophysics, or the like. I can be quite a geek.

SMP: What the best business collaborative project you’ve worked on and why?

AH: Numis Securities was (and still is) a pretty exciting project. We first migrated them from their legacy tool on to Lync and added MindLink on desktop and mobiles and advanced integration. They have incredibly high adoption rates and just added another mobility layer using tablets to collaborate. Trading teams, researchers, sales, operations….they all have chat channels set up and use it proactively.

It’s just incredibly motivating to see a company embrace new technologies like they do.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

AH: I went to Russia last spring on a city hopping guided tour.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AH: Open up MindLink and see what conversation have gone on over night

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

AH: Time travel! I would spend my holidays in time not space.

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