Socialcast, Socialtext and Huddle; three services offering the features of Twitter, Facebook and other Web 2.0 technologies but palatable to business.
If you ask someone to name some of the hottest services on the Web today, a few candidates are certain to come up.
The micro-blogging service Twitter was hot among techies last year, and now, thanks to a number of celebrity “tweeters”, it is well-known among the general public. And Facebook, the social network that has changed the way people connect with friends and colleagues, already enjoys general popularity. While they are starting to seem old in comparison, the classic Web 2.0 technologies also command a lot of mind share.
But what does all of this mean to businesses? Many individuals within companies embrace these technologies, but the businesses themselves have been hesitant to adopt them in-house. Public services such as Twitter and Facebook, while potentially valuable for controlled company information and marketing, are too insecure and uncontrollable for internal company use.
However, that doesn’t mean businesses don’t see the attractiveness of these technologies and the potential they have to improve company productivity. A service like Twitter can easily cut down on company e-mail, improve work, project tracking and keep employees connected. And a corporate-focused social network can boost collaboration and project management, as well as improve knowledge and awareness of expertise, within a company.
So while companies may not want to use Facebook and Twitter for internal employee use, products that take the features of these services and add on business-friendly capabilities could be welcome.
For this eWEEK Labs review, I looked at three SAAS (software as a service) products that use technologies similar to Twitter, Facebook and classic Web 2.0 products and attempt to revise them for business use: Socialcast, Socialtext and Huddle.
All three have different focuses and take different approaches to using these new technologies to improve business productivity. Some businesses will find one or more of these products attractive immediately; others will most likely choose to stick to classic collaboration and messaging platforms such as IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint.
However, it seems likely that companies will soon be using the features found in these products, as they have every chance of becoming standard features in collaboration and management tools in the not-too-distant future.
The first time business users look at Twitter, it’s inevitable that they will be intrigued. It’s a great way to determine the status of employees; where they’re travelling, what they’re working on, and even what they are reading or discussing. And it’s a great tool for sending out questions to the entire company or going over new ideas.
But few companies would want to do this on a public network such as Twitter. The last thing you want is for your competitors to know where your top salespeople are travelling or what ideas your research teams are throwing around.