Nexo offers quick and easy collaboration

Any group, anywhere can take advantage of this service for creating simple group sites replete with handy little Web applications

Some look at MySpace and see social networking at its most sprawling and unwieldy. Others drill deeper and see a new model for collaboration. When MySpace became a cultural phenom in 2005, Craig Jorasch, co-founder and CEO of Nexo, along with his partner Tom McGannon, vice president of operations, realized that businesses could benefit from some of MySpace's simple sharing techniques.

"Letting individuals create and publish content is a powerful thing," Jorasch says.

What MySpace does for individuals, Nexo does for groups, letting workgroups, extraprise partners, and SMBs -- or any assemblage, really -- create and share calendars, bookmarks, videos, tasks, files, and more. Just set up a site using a simple default template and start inviting others to the party.

Collaborative software is nothing new -- just ask users of Microsoft SharePoint or Lotus QuickPlace. What makes Nexo different, says Jorasch, is the fact that Nexo is a SaaS (software as a service) offering that requires no client installation -- and pays scrupulous attention to simplicity and ease of use. Nexo also plays well with e-mail, firing off messages to alert group members about changes or additions to the site.

Sites created with Nexo are less hierarchal than those of many groupware rivals. For example, site owners can create pages that combine different types of components rather than having to place all tasks on one page, files on another, and videos on a third.

Nexo went live as a beta offering in January, but it has already found a home in several universities and non-profits. Jorasch is also considering licensing the technology to companies that wish to offer value-added services to Web visitors. One potential licensee is a telco that may use Nexo to offer customers collaborative capabilities coupled with telephony for social or business networking. In addition, Nexo is being evaluated by a computer distributor for use in call center operations.

Nexo uses a role-based security model that grants access and control of the site based on title or group membership. And thanks to AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), the user interface enables users to see changes as they occur without refreshing the page.

One of the biggest challenges Nexo faces, according to Jorasch, is to track the nuances of how people interact and incorporate those subtleties into the offering. "We need to know the way people work so we can make Nexo easy to use, powerful, and flexible," he says. Another challenge for the small, angel-funded play will be competing against such juggernauts as WebEx WebOffice and Google Apps.