HiveLive vaulted from stealth mode Nov. 5 to introduce LiveConnect Community Platform, a social software platform designed to help businesses build communities.
An SAAS (software as a service) offering, LiveConnect lets companies set up social networks that connect customers, partners and employees through blogs, wikis and YouTube videos, as well as custom-built applications such as competitive company profiles and brainstorming sessions.
"We see community as what's next in CRM [customer relationship management]," HiveLive CEO and co-founder John Kembel told eWEEK, noting that communities help companies recruit, motivate and care for customers.
Typically, building communities for CRM involves tying wikis, blogs, forums, profiles and other socially oriented tools together.
This mesh approach can create some significant integration headaches, including the rationalization of multiple log-in accounts, fine-grained permissions and integrated search.
Click here to read about enterprise collaboration software from startup Jive Software.
To improve this process, HiveLive, based in Boulder, Colo., created the Hive, short for Web archive. A Hive is a Web 2.0 building block that blends data about people, information and permissions to aid CRM.
While many software products involve coding, Hives are configured by pointing and clicking, making it simpler for users to collaborate on and discuss projects, as well as share media and files.
"That building block elegantly stitches together any group of people with any set of information," said Kembel, who fashioned the Hive with his brother, Geoff Kembel, co-founder and application architect for HiveLive.
A Hive can be configured to support blogging or forums, as well as less familiar social media applications, such as testimonials and training materials, Kembel said.
Mike Gotta, an analyst with Burton Group, said HiveLive and rivals such as Awareness and SelectMinds have certain advantages over point tools such as blogging specialist Six Apart or enterprise wiki provider Socialtext. For example, Gotta said HiveLive and the other unified social media platforms offer common service layers for data, permissions and profiles.
To read more about Socialtext and its new CEO, click here.
The flip side is that the blogs, wikis and forums HiveLive enables are not best-of-breed when compared to some of the specific tools. Nor are they as all-encompassing as collaboration platforms such as IBM Lotus Connections or Microsoft SharePoint.
"If they make the platform argument, that reinforces the message from bigger vendors who eventually will get it right. So the trick is to push the need for a unified platform but be really open [and] extensible at the top application layer and build out the ecosystem around you, [involving] third parties," Gotta told eWEEK.
HiveLive is targeted at but not limited to manufacturers of consumer goods, electronics and technology-driven products.
Kembel said HiveLive will charge a set-up fee, followed by a monthly access fee for LivePlatform based on company growth and usage.
LivePlatform members get a full suite of tools for posting content, managing profiles, creating new networks, selecting favorites and setting communication preferences such as RSS feeds. All content is created and owned by members and is natively searchable.
Administrators can define member roles and permissions, moderate content, manage member accounts, grant invitations, view usage reports, assign custom skins and access APIs.
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