Enterprise 2.0 Boston: Social collaboration and innovation

Enterprise 2.0 in Boston this week brings together collaboration tools from enterprises that energise the social enterprise for organisations. But it is the smaller, more agile collaboration companies that are worth watching.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor on

Social business tools are evolving into a holistic way of collaboration for smart enterprises and this smart working energises the social enterprise for organisations.

Enterprise 2.0 in Boston later this week brings together corporate social collaboration platforms.  Companies such as Yammer, Mindlink and Igloo will be there alongside larger collaboration players such as IBM and Microsoft.

Smaller, more agile companies are really worth watching not only because of their potential to be swept up by larger companies in the social business land grab.

Platform features across each of these platforms encourage team collaboration and bring better business value to organisations.

Improving team based processes inside an organisation improves collaboration across the group. Tools bring together the ability to exchange knowledge seamlessly, making them intuitive to use and accessible to everyone who needs them throughout the organisation.

Social Intranets

Igloo, positioned in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for both Social Software in the Workplace (SSW) and Externally Facing Social Software (EFSS) allows you to create and manage your own company intranet. It uses the cloud to create your community, whether that is department, team or project based.

Team discussions can be created, threaded view conversations and questions followed and voted up or down if the question is resolved. Igloo brings together content and conversation in one unified, collaborative environment that doesn’t have to be managed by IT.

Stephen Rahal, Marketing Communications at Igloo reckons that Igloo differentiates from other social business platforms and says:

"We’ve built our own comparison of the other social business platforms here based on analyst research and feedback from our prospects and customers.

From our perspective, unlike the traditional enterprise software players that continue to enter the space, Igloo is built specifically for this new era in computing -- driven by social, mobile and cloud technologies."

The challenge that many traditional businesses have is that they are ‘siloed’ -- they contain vast amounts of intellectual capital that is never accessed by the organisation.

Contrast these silos with the social business model. This model democratises data by breaking down the information hierarchies and ensuring that knowledge stays alive, and a true organisational asset.

Moving from closed private conversations which are traditional in most organisations to open transparent forums are important. Inside enterprises, employees can then interact using tools that are familiar to them.

The challenge is finding the way to get your workforce both informed and engaged. Information should not be sent around by email, but accessed when appropriate. If the information is not relevant then filters should be applied to prefent information overload.

Group chat

Getting the right information to the workgroup in time can also be an issue. Team communications are often fragmented and bitty -- often half the team feel that they do not have the necessary information to do their jobs.

That is where Instant Messaging and particularly the ability to chat in a group can make a huge difference -- especially in businesses where time sensitive information can get the business the strategic advantage it might need.

Daanish Khan, head of marketing and strategy at Formicary Collaboration Group, says:

“There is a growing recognition that businesses must now be ‘social’ and the current trend is to bundle everything of this nature together.

However, there is a distinct difference between social networking -- which is focused on the connections between individuals -- and social collaboration, which is a multi-layered discussion between a group of people with the aim of meeting a specific objective.

MindLink has been developed to ultimately increase business productivity -- for example by collaboratively resolving an issue or developing creative strategies.”

“MindLink has been specifically designed to ‘set knowledge free’ by moving away from closed private conversations and ‘email jail’ and encouraging a culture of collaboration.”

Mobile access is also important for social collaboration. Staff need to have the ability to access collaboration tools through their browser or mobile device.

Staff also do not want to be hide bound by accessing information and knowledge by cumbersome VPN solutions. Social business platforms can circumvent this and quickly get the knowledge to the person that needs it.

Content collaboration

Yammer an enterprise social network used by 80% of the Fortune 500 companies has client apps for iPhone and BlackBerry. In February it announced an integration with SAP and five other partnerships.

Yammer enables content and team collaboration, document versioning and document sharing from content management systems. Instant notifications keep team members in the loop about what is going on.

Rumours were flying around last week about a potential purchase of Yammer by Microsoft -- which could be good for business.

The social layer to business processes means data can talk to you, even if it is complex on-premise software, such as SAP. The relationship with SAP is a continuation of the partner strategy Yammer launched back in November with the introduction of its Ticker service.

It gives the mobile workforce access to asynchronous conversations with co-workers inside the firewall and out. Connections can be made so that information flow can occur safely and securely.

Companies can then optimise their most valuable resource -- the knowledge of their employees.


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