Monday, January 23, 2012

Netvibes Releases Dashboard Engine

Netvibes faced a quandary; the service they offered five years ago could now be found in many other places. Clearly, they needed to come up with another, more compelling service for web surfers. This new service, which should be a boon to anyone doing topic-focused research (from hobbyists to scientists), went live just a few months ago. Let's take a closer look.
In 2005 Netvibes was launched to great success, as its aim to provide users with a custom home page service where they could collect their favorite online content and access it all from any Web browser was a very original idea at the time. Five years later, of course, similar services exist and though Netvibes hasn't been left behind, the Paris and San Francisco-based company was in need of something to make their product new and refreshing.
This past April, they did just that. The duo behind the company launched a Dashboard Engine to help its users track the web, enabling them to create a single place where everything available on the web about a respective topic can be viewed at once from their dashboard. The Dashboard Engine, which is more of a tool than anything else, features a search box where users can type in a topic, person, or event and before they know it, they'll be presented with the latest and greatest information about it from across the web. Some of the results come from Yahoo Search, Flickr, and YouTube, just to name a few.
Let's learn more about Netvibes' new Dashboard Engine, its features, and how it helps businesses. Let's get started:
The First of Its Kind
According to the creators of Netvibes, their number one goal with the new dashboard engine was to help users track the "real-time Web," which seems to be the major goal of many developers these days, but we'll discuss that major, emerging trend in just a little while. What's perhaps most impressive about the engine is that it's being heralded as the first of its kind in the world.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Dashboard Engine is that users can go back to it without having to repeatedly search or look up the latest updates on a specific topic since their previous visit to Netvibes. They can also add new content to the Dashboard Engine, delete items they no longer want updates on, and arrange their topics, making it easier to sift through their content.
Users will find the Dashboard Engine's ability to find any information on any topic a very welcome experience, not to mention the fact that it provides the latest and most up-to-date information as well. Early users have reported that the Dashboard Engine is a little slow to load at times, but it's not too much of a nuisance, and its built-in tool that makes it easy to share your favorite content via e-mail or through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook also make up for any slight delay users may experience.
For users who already have Netvibes, using the new Dashboard Engine couldn't be easier. Once you log on to the site, you simply enter a topic or keyword of interest, choose one of many photos that relate to your search word, and then Netvibes does the rest for you by immediately providing a stream of the most recent news for these topics.
When we say that the Dashboard Engine provides the most up-to-date information on the web, it's important to understand how comprehensive this information is. Aside from the usual tabs for news, videos, articles, and other online conversations about the topics you choose to have on your Dashboard, there are also results via Twitter mentions, Facebook mentions, and any recent updates from the blogosphere.
There is an entirely separate tab for Google results, meaning you have a lot of information thrown your way very quickly. For some, this may seem overwhelming at first, but users will get the hang of it quickly, and Netvibes makes it incredibly easy to navigate your way through everything.
Users also have the option of adding any feeds related to the subjects or topics they're interested in. Another cool feature sort of touched on earlier is the user's ability to navigate away from the site to do other online tasks, and upon their return, their dashboard will already have been updated with all of the latest information available on the chosen topics. According to Blackweb 2.0 , here are the most interesting ways you can use Netvibes to your benefit, some of which pertain to the many business benefits of the Dashboard Engine that we'll soon discuss in greater depth:
  • Users who run businesses can set up different dashboards to monitor the latest news on their top competitors. This will allow them to see their successes, as well as opportunities they may have to capitalize on their most recent shortfalls.
  • Users can create a dashboard to monitor their business, enabling them to learn what their current and potential customers are saying about them online. Also, one particularly useful aspect of the old Netvibes carried over into the Dashboard Engine: Twitter monitoring, which can be refined to filter only the information that is most beneficial to you and your business. You can also monitor your business' Facebook mentions, good or bad. Chances are that as social media continues to grow, Netvibes' Dashboard Engine will adapt, enabling users to have their virtual ear to the ground, monitoring everything and hopefully making the most of the information.
  • If users are in school and doing research on a specific subject for an upcoming project or term paper, Netvibes' new Dashboard Engine enables them to set up a dashboard on that subject. Essentially, it allows the Dashboard to work as a research tool over time, curating the most pertinent information on the subject.
  • The Dashboard also enables users to compile a list of mentors they may have, and from there, dashboards can be set up featuring their names and/or companies as the subject. Essentially, this enables users to observe those they look up to in a new and exciting way.
Quite smartly, Netvibes is quick to differentiate their Dashboard Engine from services such as Google -- and rightfully so. Just as the company points out on their website, "It's not a search engine, it's a dashboard engine." Netvibes allows its users to create unlimited dashboards, monitoring and keeping track of everything in their digital lives. According to Netvibes, "Users can dashboard everything in just a single click, save as many different instant dashboards as they like, and share them with friends. It's a whole new way to instantly monitor and track sports teams, businesses, competitors, celebrities, political issues or the latest trending topics without having to dig through search results and browse from site to site."
Since the release of the Dashboard Engine, Netvibes has released the Premium Dashboard Engine Manager, which is proving to be incredibly beneficial to a number of businesses and top interactive agencies (such as Ogilvy PR, Tribal DDB, WeissComm Group, and CRM Company Group) that have since adopted the software to better monitor the real-time Web. Essentially, it's a powerful new suite of tools for Netvibes Premium Dashboards that enables agencies, businesses, and brands to rapidly build and manage multiple dashboards for different business needs and clients.
According to the Netvibes blog , here are the Premium Dashboard Manager's features:
  • Push Publishing Content Management: Sends live updates to users via a yellow notification bar; users have the option of accepting or rejecting updates.
  • User Permissions and Management: Creates different access levels for different types of users. For example, an agency account manager might have full control to build, publish, and edit a brand monitoring dashboard for a specific client, but would not have access to other dashboards for agency clients. The agency director can have view-only access to all dashboards for all clients, and a specific client can have view-only access to their dashboard only.
  • Rapid Publishing Tools: Easily create new dashboards by replicating dashboards, themes, or tabs and create new ones using the instant dashboarding engine , which enables users to create new smart dashboards by simply entering in a topic keyword. Then, all dashboards can be managed from a centralized content management system.
  • Advanced Features and Billing: Self-manage advanced options like URLs, single sign-on (SSO), and billing features all in one place.
Also according to the Netvibes Blog , here are some examples of the different ways Premium Dashboards can be used to monitor, manage, and build engagement on the real-time Web:
  • Brand Monitoring: Track clients, customers, and competitors across hundreds of media sources all in one place, analyze live results with dozens of third party reporting tools, and provide real-time media monitoring dashboards for brand clients.
  • E-Reputation Management: Visualize real-time Twitter conversations and social activity feeds and track new trending topics with "drag-and-follow" smart widgets.
  • Product Marketing: Create fully interactive product microsites in minutes, with Netvibes' award-winning drag-and-drop publishing interface.
  • Community Portals: Engage online communities by offering each user the ability to personalize their own unique start page and send live community updates with instant push publishing tools
  • Personalized Workspaces: Boost productivity by creating workplace dashboards that gather all essential company updates, industry news, and enterprise tools each team needs all in one place, personalized to support specific divisions (i.e.. sales, marketing, HR) and localizations.
It is these last few capabilities that are proving to be the most important for Netvibes' premium service. There is a new focus in the tech world on "real time" results, meaning being able to obtain information the second it's published online. According to Netvibes, "With the acceleration of the real-time Web, people are looking for a way to monitor and keep up-to-date on everything about topics that matter to them, without having to dig through an endless list of yesterday's search engine results." It appears as if Netvibes has found the answer to this. Now it's just a matter of seeing how many consumers catch on.

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