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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Angela Ashenden
On Monday, Mindjet announced the next version of its mind mapping software, called Mind Manager 9, which will be released this summer. While electronic mind mapping arguably has a fairly limited appeal, Mind Manager has had significant success over the last 13 years, with 1.5 million customers of the desktop tool. The challenge for Mindjet over recent years has been how to maintain growth and momentum in a market where Web 2.0 technologies and realtime editing tools are putting pressure on traditional desktop applications. The company has already made some progress in this area with products like Catalyst (which we blogged about here), which provides web-based, collaborative mind mapping capabilities, as well as providing a means to link Mind Manager applications together to support collaboration. Mindjet has also announced other new products which leverage its mind mapping capabilities as visualisation tools – for example Mind Manager Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint, and Mindjet Deal Navigator for Salesforce.com.
With the latest version of Mind Manager, in order to extend the potential audience of the product, the company has drawn inspiration from its existing client base, of whom 60-70% use the tool for project-related activities, such as building or launching new products. Mind Manager 9 adds some impressive capabilities to support task management and project planning, automatically generating Gantt chart-style project schedules from the list of tasks and dependencies, and enabling users to identify utilisation rates for team members. The company positions these capabilities as “project planning for the rest of us” – i.e. targeting the non-specialists, for whom tools like Microsoft Project are overly complex.
Other areas of focus in the new version (which is due for release in August) include tight integration with Microsoft Outlook to support the import of Outlook content such as emails and tasks into a mind map, retaining a dynamic link between the two tools so that the content remains current, as well as a new presentation mode which allows users to create multiple slide decks from a single mind map to support interactive presentations, enabling the content to be edited during the presentation as required.
Overall, this is a positive direction for Mindjet, and is another example of the creativity that the company is employing in order to maximise its opportunities and long term stability in the software market. There remain challenges to overcome – not least the wealth of competition in the collaboration software market as a whole, as well as the shift in mindset required by many users before they can understand the benefits of mind mapping tools – but this is clearly a company which is determined to adapt and survive, while leveraging its greatest differentiator – the mind map.
See our On The Radar report on Mindjet.