SocialCast has revamped its group comms service, given it a facelift, aligned itself more closely to consumery apps like Twitter and FriendFeed and then given it an enterprise twist. As far as I am aware, this is the first enterprise facing application that has gotten close to what I have long thought is the way to go for microblogging and information sharing in an enterprise environment.
Rafe Needleman over at CNet has a comprehensive write up of the main features including:
Socialcast will also let enterprise customers "white label" the product so it carries corporate branding, and there will be capabilities to include company-specific posting types linked to an internal system. For example, when signing a new customer, the service could link to a Salesforce.com record and pull information from it. Links to wikis and bug-tracking systems are also possible.
This kind of capability will give SocialCast a wide appeal but it is not without problem. In enterprise land, value lies in process. Therefore, the ability to tie SocialCast to a variety of business processes requires far more than links to services such as Salesforce.com. It's not clear from the blurbs where data resides and that will be an important issue for ensterprise, along with auditability and traceability.
Pricing at a flat $5/user/month sounds generous but in reality won't fly much beyond say 25 users. At 100 users for instance you're talking $6,000 a year. Although that will hardly break the bank, I am seeing a downward trend for these styles of service and I suspect SocialCast will need to come up with a more inventive model. Also, when I tried to sign up, the system refused to recognize my zip code. I suspect this is because the service has been tethered to US zip codes and has yet to be proliferated to other territories. This is a common mistake but one that still irks. Even so, coming out the gate with a pricing model is still a good thing.
The biggest issue lays with positioning. Aligning to Twitter and FriendFeed in an enterprise setting is a no-no. Enterprise doesn't like the idea of social anything and often views these services as a time sink. Having this association without direct purpose makes selling at scale a real problem in my view. SocialCast's 'ideas' tab is one step in the right direction but I'm not sure it's enough to convince managment about its utility. I am happy to be proven wrong on this point but it will require a change of manaegment attitude to displace what I usually see as command and control.
Despite my reservations, SocialCast is on the right track and can only get better.