Enterprise social networking focuses on the use of online social networks or social relations among people who share business interests and/or activities. Enterprise social networking is often a facility of enterprise social software. It encompasses modifications to corporate intranets (referred to as social intranets) and other software platforms used by large companies to organise their communication, collaboration and other aspects of their intranets. Enterprise social networking is also generally thought to include the use of a standard external social networking service to generate visibility for an enterprise.
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The 12 Most Popular Enterprise Social Network Software Solutions
Clarizen is a combined social engagement and online project management tool which allows users to work in a collaborative manner and automate workflow to improve efficiency. Currently, Clarizen is being used by more than 2,500 companies in 79 countries, including major Fortune 500 corporations like Equifax and Boston Scientific.
The program is designed to structure activity by connecting projects, tasks, and conversations, allowing projects and other corporate initiatives to be managed in a quick and efficient manner. The software automatically prioritises projects, tasks, resources and budgets to ensure critical resources and information are being properly managed.
Clarizen supports Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, and is deployed either as Saas (Software as a service) or Cloud-hosted. It has an open API which means that it can integrate with a host of other systems and applications.
Slack is a cloud-based instant messaging and collaboration system which is designed to enable users to communicate easily. Features include direct messaging capabilities, notifications and alerts, document sharing, group chat and search. It is popular with software developers and technology companies because it supports source code snippets and retains formatting for a variety of programming languages. It also offers integration with many third-party applications, including Google Drive and Drop box.
For small teams Slack is free – although only limited functionality is provided – and there are also Standard, Plus and Enterprise levels available on licence. It is compatible with Android, iOS and Blackberry.
Yammer has been described as Facebook for business, and is a social network that is entirely focused on a business and its internal workings. In order to join Yammer, an applicant must have a working email on the company’s domain, although there is the possibility of creating external networks to allow non-employees, such as customers and suppliers, to communicate with a company.
New posts – similar to Facebook – appear in Yammer’s primary screen known as the Newsfeed, whilst icons are used to indicate private messages. Groups can also be created to segregate discussions only meant for specific internal teams.
Information can quickly be shared by attaching files to posts, and files can also be uploaded to a central repository for other people on the network to download and update as necessary.
Yammer has an open API and has apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows.
VMWare vCenter Server is an on premise system, designed for medium and large businesses, which allows users through a single platform to control and manage an organisation’s virtual infrastructure. The deployment of servers is made simple, so that a company’s virtual structure can be run and maintained from one location. The tool guarantees both flexibility and efficiency, and makes the management of teams and company operations much simpler.
The service is available on one and three year licences, with prices varying with the degree of support provided with the system.
Zimbra provides a full suite of social tools, such as blogs and microblogs, forums and wikis, media and video embedding, content editing, web pages, and tagging,
The Collaboration tool offers a range of messaging and collaboration tools, including the ability to set up a personal cloud that integrates with a user’s email. The personal cloud also has voice, task, calendar, address book and file sharing capability. Documents and files can be shared on the Zimbra platform, which integrates with external applications such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as Oracle and SAP.
eXo Platform is a cloud-based open source project management and social collaboration solution that caters to medium and large organisations, helping them make decisions and manage operations which relate to projects. It supports project collaboration and management of documents and tasks.
The software includes an enterprise “wiki” application which allows users to build and share a knowledge database within an organisation, and supports and fosters enhanced knowledge sharing within a team.
eXO Platform provides a customisable database to display information, whilst activity streams and notifications help team members keep track of project activities.
The software offers a perpetual licence for a one- time fee that includes support via email, phone and online tutorials.
talkSpirit is an enterprise level communication and social networking platform which connects all of an organisation’s locations, departments, teams and individuals. Users get a personalised intuitive newsfeed which displays only the information that is relevant to them. The software covers three essential areas – collaboration, communication and connectivity – with features such as file and document sharing, chat, forums and other social interactive features
Zoho Connect is a cloud-based project collaboration tool designed for businesses of all sizes across various industries. It allows users to build an enterprise social network so that projects can collaborate and connect on projects.
Zoho Connect features a live stream of recent activity so that users can view project progress at a glance. Users receive all project communication in their email inboxes.
A key feature of the software is the customised app builder, which allows users to design their applications based on their specific needs. Zoho Connect’s drag-and-drop application builder allows users to build their applications as per the module requirement.
The solution offers users a mobile application for Android and iOS devices for remote usage.
Igloo Software is a cloud-based collaboration platform for small and midsize organisations that helps users connect stakeholders and create collaborative environments for their employees. The solution helps initiate discussions, share ideas and manage content within a centralised location.
Igloo is a modular solution that offers features such as communication management, knowledge management and workflow management. It supports knowledge sharing that helps in building connections, whilst its team space feature helps introduce new employees to teams, allowing them to become familiar with people and with their projects.
With Igloo, users can author, edit, publish and add comments to reports. The solution allows employees to create their profiles and update their information with qualifications, abilities, skills, hobbies and more.
An overhead notification bar tracks tasks assigned to an individual and generates alerts for tasks nearing the deadline. The solution offers a version-controlling feature to display the latest version of the document on the preview page.
IBM Connections is cloud-based software that integrates email, on-line meetings, instant messaging, file sharing, collaborative document editing and more in one unified solution. Via a personalised dashboard, colleagues, business partners and customers can access these capabilities to manage work, communicate and prioritise information and actions. IBM Connections supports mobile devices and comes in 3 packages tailored to customer needs and budget.
QuickReviewer is a cloud-based team collaboration solution designed to enable users to collectively work on projects, share feedback, incorporate reviews and suggestions and configure workflow approvals. Key features include adding and replying to comments, sharing files, document versioning, online file storage and more.
Collaboration tools allow team members to give feedback, add comments to tasks and discuss issues. Content edits can be highlighted, underlined or colour-coded as per the reviewer’s style. Comments can also be assigned to specific team members. The solution supports multiple file types, including HTML files, images, videos and a range of document types.
QuickReviewer can integrate its review module with third-party project management, digital asset management and content management solutions via a built-in API.
Clinked is cloud-based portal software for businesses, which enables teams to collaborate, manage projects and share files. Key features include a search tool, third-party application integrations, task management, file sharing and collaboration tools.
With Clinked, users can collaborate on projects by assigning tasks, requesting approvals on documents and commenting on user activities. The dashboard provides a centralised view of all project groups, activities, project conversations and tasks. File sharing allows users to upload and tag multiple files from various devices, and also provides file previews.
Clinked provides integration with Google apps, which enables users to log in using a Google account and use Google applications including Google Docs, Google Contacts and Google Calendar. It is also accessible via mobile applications for Android and iOS devices.
Choosing the best Enterprise Social Network Software
When choosing an Enterprise Social Network Solution, the main criteria are the size and complexity of an organisation. It is important that potential user find a solution that corresponds to the needs of their organisation. For example, a small business which is situated in one location, and with a small number of teams, either might not need such a system at all, or can make do with a simple email, messaging and file sharing solution. However, a multi-national corporation with thousands of employees, partners and affiliates dispersed over a wide geographical area may need a premium-product to encourage collaboration, cooperation and communication, as information silos are often a major barrier to efficiency and performance in such circumstances.
However, some of the functionality that users may want to consider includes:
A People Section
This acts as a contact section where information regarding parties of interest is synchronised directly from social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This enables users to see personal data, skills, group participation and a wealth of other details.
Comments and tagging support
Users should be able to follow tags and comments and one direct from their application. A search filter for capturing particular comments and tags could also be very useful.
A premium software solution allows users to freely create, which means that teams switch between channels to create pages and share spreadsheets, with the information visible to all, and regularly updated, rather than being stored in private inboxes.
These may be considered the core of any social networking software, forming the starting page from which users can send messages and contact other team members, share files and discuss different topics.
Integration and mobile-friendliness
An Enterprise Social Network Solution has to function in harmony with an organisation’s existing social infrastructure, and integrate with CRM (Customer Relationship Management), HR, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), or other such systems.
Types of Enterprise Social Network Software
There are five main generic types of Enterprise Social Networking Software.
Blogs, Wikis and Posts: Users can create and collaboratively edit web pages using a simple editor.
Enterprise microblogging: Users can start conversations, create polls, share news, files, and links, and view and reply to posts from colleagues.
Instant messaging and group chat: Users can chat one-on-one with other team members, or engage in group chat with a project team.
Mobile apps: Full-featured apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry with real-time updates and notifications.
Video conferencing: Users can participate in a video conference using their computer’s webcam and microphone.
Enterprise Social Networking Software has seen a sharp increase in demand as organisation and employers have come to understand the multiple benefits of encouraging internal collaboration, communication and interaction as a means of ensuring greater efficiency and productivity. In response, enabling software has been developed with a range of functionality and tools which aim to translate the benefits of social media – the openness, the immediacy and the informality – into the business environment.
However, installing a suitable solution within a business can be a major task, and can come with a large price tag. There are free versions of the software are available, but usually these solutions come with limited functionality and are not suitable for larger companies. However, the benefits of these systems, if used fully and consistently, can be substantial, and underpin, as opposed to impair, long-term profitability.