CogmapCogmap is an interesting site that takes organization charts to a whole new level. Claiming itself to be the “Wikipedia of organization charts,” anyone can freely view, edit, and maintain corporate structures online. They have created an eye-catching application and combined the concept of wiki with org charts; information that’s usually held tightly and managed internally within corporations.

Cogmap provides a potentially powerful service. Being part of a creative studio, I am to contact various people from mid to large scale corporations and one of the hassles that I have had is keeping up with who’s who and who I should be talking to. Having the ability to pull up an org chart online and finding the right person to speak to certainly makes my life easier. I can browse through all the names in a chart, search for a specific department, and even compare the current org chart with an older version if needed.

The interface, as seen above, looks much like your basic organization chart. It presents the structure clearly and allows you to zoom in and out if needed. You can also add new people to any chart and fix information if you find something inaccurate. You will also find that viewing a chart with zoom at large lets you view more information about each individual person. Just hover over a person and click the magnifying glass to view the extra information or even fill in some information if you know of anything (remember, it’s a wiki!).

It’s also important to take note of the outline and directory views. The outline view, accessible at the top right of a chart, allows you to look at an organizations structure in a outline format that clearly shows the hierarchical levels and relationships. Sometimes it’s also just easier to read in an outline format for large companies, like Microsoft, rather than charts. The directory view is also nice when trying to find a specific persons contact information. Each person is listed with their title, phone, email address, and any additional notes. Though, the only problem is that it’s not often you find this information filled in.

I feel that if enough users participate in this wiki of organization charts, it could grow to be a very useful and powerful resource. Having access to corporate structures can be quite helpful, even for a small creative studio like mine. I can also see the Cogmap system being used for other charts of information, such as political structures, family trees, or basic networks.

There are, however, some problems with Cogmap. The main issue with the system as Webware and Rev2 have pointed out is the accuracy of information. Anyone can easily or unknowingly insert invalid information. Even just opening a chart gives me the urge to click and drag things around. Maybe some kind of verification system can help solve this? Another problem deals with employee privacy. If I were to own a large company, I certainly wouldn’t want my employees listed online with all their contact information for anyone to see, not to mention the chance of spam. But at the same time, anyone can already get the same information through services like Jigsaw.

With that said, I think Cogmap will be interesting to watch. I do have mixed feelings about it, but hope to see it take off.


13 Comments on “Cogmap – The Wikipedia of Organization Charts?”

  1. Heiko says:

    Thx for introducing this application.

  2. dave says:

    i love the idea – disclosure: i’m an advisor to jigsaw too…

    at any rate, i see a much larger potential application for ‘closed usage’ versus the open site – personally, i could imagine companies of all sorts paying for a service like this if locked down for only their approved parties….

    shortcoming: i could build and track similar data with dabbledb in a MUCH MUCH more robust way and pull down the file and move it through a better visualization tool (from visio to whatever) and in turn have local file control to move such images and so on into other applications…

    at any rate, one HUGE suggestion (and i’ve written about this very subject before for ci magazine) do not forget that people and groups also form around communication behavior and not traditional hierarchy – the charts need to allow for another attribute layer (e.g. ‘project team’ or ‘collaborates with,,.’) to create linkage – and this may extend beyond one company, to other firms, allowing for tremendous potential (implication two) – cogmap could create something on par with “theyrule.net” but regularly updated, more insightful, and deeper below the marzipan layer…

    if the guys behind cogmap would like to ping me, please feel free (hit the blog, or dave at that blog url) and i can turn you on to some very, very interesting resources regarding sna and modeling networks (open source) that you might be able to implement within your existing framework…

    thanks for finding this! really creative idea…and yes, privacy is an issue, so wiki works if registration is required and ip logging and validation tools are used….

  3. TechBoo says:

    Nice organization chart. but look’s like it cannot handle large organization size. In IE, loading Microsoft Chart take a long time

  4. Michael Mahemoff says:

    Funny because most intranets make it so hard to find the orgchart even from within the company (if it’s there at all)…if it takes off, the biggest users will be employees looking up their own orgcharts.

  5. Richard Krueger says:

    Would be interesting to see a VOIP service plan integrated, in which you can click-to-call on any name within the org chart and be connected via phone.

  6. Eric says:

    Several years ago, a Website contained links from several Fortune 500 companies board of directors. The bottom line is that ALL companies are grouped together. What was nice was this Website (unknown? please help!) had everything mapped out. It would be nice to see this functionality recreated.

  7. dave says:

    eric, i mentioned that site above in my post (theyrule) – but their data set is old (from 2004 and earlier)

    there is another one for biotech that i can turn you on to, much more current: go to recap.com, and look at ‘power brokers of biotech’ – similar idea, but more interesting to see how drug companies develop and share thought leadership…

  8. Jason M. Lemkin says:

    Very slick. If it could get to critical scale, it could be a nice adjunct to Jigsaw etc. with a real ability to charge . . . but this is more complex than earning points in Jigsaw by just ‘giving up’ contact info . . . not sure it can scale as simply as Jigaw-Spoke-etc, unfortunately, b/c if it does it will be tremendous

  9. A to Z of World says:

    Though the service and the idea sound great, I’m a bit sceptic about the usage and the accuracy of charts. Well what I mean to say is it might not be as widely used as wikipedia and I could just start a chart for my present employer with CEO as my name ;)

  10. Steven Bao says:

    I am rather disappointed with this web application; this has the potential to be the Writely of organizational charts. The idea of a collaborative chart of people in an organization is good, but what would be more useful in my opinion is one that one could have people create organizational charts for, well, anything.

  11. Jonathan Marcus says:

    Are any companies providing this same type of functionality – AJAX based Organization Chart building where the information can be kept private? Id like to build simple Org Charts and share them with a select group of individuals online (or within Basecamp, etc.). Thanks.

  12. Manny Hernandez says:

    Very nice! Fills a sweet spot.

  13. org says:

    Does this handle data manipulation from HR systems like SAP or Peoplesoft? I don’t know how limited it would be since it is a wiki and figure that manually changing data could be limiting as well instead of running off of databases of info. I guess its just more for visual representations and not workforce management.