Where Are All the Enterprise Social Media Apps?

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-01-29 Print this article Print

Enterprises want to know what the business case is before they begin buying.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-If the concept of social media is to make an impact on the enterprise, it needs to be customized or built for business, and few products currently fill that bill.

Employees are using social media tools, but new ones need to be developed and the enterprise still wants to know what the business case is for these applications, said Ajay Gandhi, senior director for enterprise social computing at BEA Systems and a member of a panel speaking Jan. 29 at the WebGuild Web 2.0 conference here.

"The use of social media applications in the enterprise is currently being determined by workers, who simply download and use them," said Robert Rueckert, a senior investment manager at Intel Capital who focuses on Internet startups. "Their IT departments are now recognizing this and looking to consolidate those tools and make them useful for everyone in the organization."

New tools need to be developed that are enterprise-specific and that are a lot more secure and able to follow a corporate compliance and governance policy, Rueckert said.

The companies having the most success are those providing enterprises with useful solutions, but there is a shortage of these, Rueckert continued, noting that there has been much talk about a "Facebook for the enterprise" type of application, but one has yet to emerge. "Many enterprises are trying to build these on their own," he said.

Facebook for the enterprise 

BEA has plans to unleash in 2008 an enterprise version of a Facebook-like solution called AquaLogic Interaction, which is based on the former Plumtree Foundation and Plumtree Corporate Portal technologies, Gandhi said.

AquaLogic Interaction will let enterprises do social networking within their environment, and will have a connectivity feed, profile pages and ways for people to connect to one another in a way that allows the type of dynamic collaboration not available today, he said.

"Many of the social media applications that are now being used in the enterprise came from the consumer side and, over time, became part of the enterprise. But they need to be adapted to its specific needs, especially around security and governance," Gandhi said.

For its part, Salesforce.com has introduced Ideaforce, a feedback platform where users can debate and vote on the new feature or enhancement they most want included in the next product release, said Anshu Sharma, senior director of platform strategy at Salesforce.com.

"The enterprise wants social media applications that allow them to connect information that can then be extracted and used in a meaningful way," Sharma said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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