Deltek Goes Social with Kona Business

Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors, has been talking for some time about its up-and-coming social networking product Kona. During its beta and/or preview phase throughout 2012 and later, the product was rolled out internally at Deltek (see blog post), and since then its free version has been available for Deltek customers, all types of enterprises and organizations, and even individuals at large. The cloud-based social collaboration and productivity platform aims to empower project-based organizations by enabling their internal teams to collaborate and work better together.

For 30 years, Deltek has been focused on helping project-based businesses achieve higher levels of business performance. The vendor understands the challenges inherent in delivering successful projects and has identified poor collaboration and misaligned teams as the primary inhibitors to successful project delivery. To solve such problems, Deltek has harnessed the connectivity power of social media to create Kona, a social platform that allows all key departments within an organization to stay aligned—including the all-important project management teams—to drive profitable and timely outcomes for the business.

Meet Kona Business

Deltek recently announced the general availability of Kona Business, the premium version of Kona (see press release). From colleagues to customers to subcontractors to partners, Kona Business aims to connect people, processes, and technology through easy-to-use conversation spaces, task lists, common calendars, and file sharing. With Kona Business in place, conversations, key deliverables, important documents, and major milestones can all be collected and unified in context so that teams can identify and solve issues and problems, and keep everyone current on the status of deadlines and deliverables. Delivered through a secure cloud-based architecture, Kona Business offers organizations both a project/task management platform and a social networking solution to drive alignment across key activities and projects.

While Kona Business can be an effective solution on its own and indeed has great applicability for businesses in general outside of the Deltek base, it connects to Deltek’s more established enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, helping to expose critical information, plans, and status updates from Deltek’s applications. With information exposed quickly and easily, collective decisions can be made faster and better across the organization. Kona Business complements Deltek’s solutions for business development, finance, project management, information technology (IT), and other departments.

Two versions of Kona are currently available—a free version and the aforementioned Kona Business version. You can see the capabilities contained within each version (and pricing for Kona Business) here. Though Kona Business is offered as a bundled package with Deltek’s market-leading solutions, it can also be purchased as a stand-alone platform. Self-service purchasing is available by credit card.

Deltek Executive Talks Kona Business

To flesh out the importance of this announcement, I asked Patrick Smith, vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Deltek, a couple of questions.

PJ: Honestly, in light of a plethora of social networking products out there, many of which are free and/or open source (see blog post here and here), why should anyone care about Kona Business?
PS: Kona Business was built to be different from the rest of the tools on the market. For one thing, it was built by Deltek, so our knowledge of what needs to happen for effective project collaboration is built into the tool itself. For another, it’s different than other tools that are out there. Some tools such as Basecamp are narrowly focused on things such as just project/task management, while others are fluffier “anything goes” social media platforms that are just used for internal communication such as Yammer. Kona is a platform for both of those needs—and more. With its conversation spaces, task lists, common calendars, and file-sharing capabilities, it’s a broader platform than those of the task/project management vendors and more purposeful than the fluffy social engines (see here for screen shots). Finally, it really is a great tool for groups of professionals inside companies, and for individuals doing life projects (e.g., charitable works). As it is built for both types of people, user adoption is more easily achieved—as people use Kona at work and at home.

All in all, Kona addresses the very fragmented social collaboration sector by offering project/task management, an enterprise social network (ESN), and a personal productivity platform—all in one powerful, easy-to-use, and seamless solution. Kona is following the trends in mobile with our Kona app, where people want a central place to manage things on the go (which can be done from a computer, tablet, or smartphone—with the Kona Mobile apps for iOS and Android). We also want to note that Kona Business helps address collaboration, communication, and productivity internally (with colleagues in one location or across the world with a distributed workforce), as well as externally with the many partners, contractors, and customers that organizations work with on a daily basis.

PJ: Are you targeting any particular competitors here?
PS: The competition for Kona is really based on two main categories: project/task management (e.g., Basecamp, by, Trello, and Asana) and enterprise social networks (e.g., Yammer, Podio, and Jive). We've already achieved early successes with Kona Business in Deltek's existing customer base, but it is also a great tool for other companies, organizations, and groups outside of the company's core focus segments.
Additional Kona “competitors” aren’t social competitors at all—they are e-mail and Microsoft SharePoint. While collaboration and social business can certainly leverage the use of traditional applications, e-mail has continued to become a drain on productivity for many organizations (as illustrated here), and SharePoint has faced some limitations and challenges for collaboration—which is one of the reasons that Microsoft acquired Yammer for $1.2 billion (USD). Deltek team members were visionaries who realized the limitations of e-mail and SharePoint and built Kona to solve the problems e-mail and SharePoint weren’t solving, and in some cases causing.
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