Today's workers increasingly use social tools... but in large part, only outside corporate firewalls. However, companies thinking about bringing social networking tools into the enterprise may find that now is the right time to jump into the social waters. Socialtext announced the 4.0 iteration of its enterprise social software platform on Wednesday, March 3, including some major additions and updates. The latest version brings enterprise customers many of the tools that users of public social networking tools have become accustomed to, yet with the needed structure and security companies require.
Among the major new additions to the platform are collaborative groups, which allow people to create a group for any purpose, such as to work on a task or project, or to share around a common interest. Anyone can create a Collaborative Group on the fly, complete with a group home page with an activity stream of group member updates, a dedicated microblogging channel, and one or more workspaces. The owner of these groups also has the ability to set different privacy standards--ranging from groups that cannot be seen unless you're invited to in, to completely open, public groups. Collaborative Groups can also be synchronized with existing groups within a company's LDAP or corporate directory.
Some of Socialtext's most familiar features are getting an update as well. Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee credits, in part, the addition of Signals, a microblogging tool, to the platform with the success Socialtext enjoyed at the end of 2008. "Business results for the company were really great...In addition to the economy getting less bad, the addition of Signals extended our footprints within our customers," he says. "More employees use the tool, and they use it more." With the popularity of Signals in mind, the Socialtext team focused much of its attention on the Twitter-like tool.
The latest edition enhances microblogging by adding channels. Using a drop-down menu, users can view Signals from just a specific group. They can also post a Signal to one group they belong to, or all of them. A similar filtering system has been added to the activity stream. This capability is available on both Socialtext's browser-based interface or Socialtext Desktop, the Adobe AIR application. Signals search capabilities have also been built into the newest edition of the enterprise social software platform.
Also new to Signals is a "flashback" capability, which Lee calls "a cool innovation from one of our developers." It allows users to look back at any microblogging message to see the context of the discussion at the time it was published.
"Groups have been on our road map for awhile," says Lee who adds that Socialtext works on a flexible two-week schedule, deciding on the schedule for updates and additions on an on-going basis that allows the company to respond to customer needs quickly. For instance, Lee says, the popularity of Signals convinced the team to move up the channels capability.
Socialtext 4.0 is available on all of Socialtext's flexible deployment options, including its on-site managed appliance, which delivers security without requiring IT resources or developers to update and maintain the software.
"The focus of our enterprise social software has always been to accelerate business performance for our customers, by giving their people new ways to share knowledge and expertise," says Lee. "Socialtext 4.0 takes that an extra step forward. It allows people to circulate information, ideas and updates in a targeted way with teammates, so they can move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities."