Brightidea on May 20 introduced the latest version of its enterprise social network, a software platform that lets businesses create custom portals that connect customers, employees or partners.
The San Francisco startup, maker of the Brightidea.com platform, is part of a bumper crop of young vendors looking to sell social tools that enable businesses to implement profiles, blogs, wikis and other user-generated content infrastructure to promote communications. This group includes Wetpaint.com, Sparta Social Networks and Pringo Networks.
Brightidea's WebStorm 5.0 targets what the company calls "innovation management," which is a fancy way of saying it aggregates users' ideas. These ideas are typically generated in a passel of e-mails, phone calls, whiteboard sessions and sticky notes, and placed in portals for discussion and collaboration.
But unlike with other "crowdsourcing" portals that rank ideas, such as UserVoice, Salesforce.com's Salesforce Ideas or Spigit's InnovationSpigit, Brightidea CEO Matthew Greeley told eWEEK, he and his team of 30 employees formulate the back end of the idea pipeline.
"It's great to pile up a bunch of ideas from customers, but if you don't have the back-end process to move those ideas through the organization and track their implementation, you're really just creating a new problem for yourself," Greeley said.
Brightidea created WebStorm 5.0 as an alternative to social networks that are created without a clear business objective. Yet the approach is still pretty open because it is modeled after Wikipedia's pile-on ability to foster crowdsourcing.
Unlike with Facebook or LinkedIn, each company can leverage the WebStorm 5.0 brand on its own site, the hallmark of a white-label social network. Similar to Facebook or LinkedIn, WebStorm 5.0 lets users build personal profiles, create or join personal networks, send private messages, search for experts, and earn points and recognition for their ideas. Users can submit, vote and comment on the ideas of others.
Then, admins-such as product managers looking for feedback from customers, or conference coordinators creating virtual communities that parallel in-person events-will receive real-time reporting on community activity and usage patterns. This will include metrics on individual performance, activity levels and trends, the company said.
"Just like a FedEx tracking number gets assigned to a package, our goal is to assign an ID to every idea and track those ideas through that organization," Greeley said.
The platform can be connected directly to a company's existing Web site or used as a stand-alone platform for private communities. WebStorm 5.0 is available now for as little as $1 per user.
Brightidea didn't just fall out of the sky to launch this new platform. The company in October 2007 was tapped to be the supporting platform for Cisco Systems' I-Prize, an innovation competition that brought together global teams to develop tech business ideas and put them through Cisco's process for identifying emerging technologies to take to market.