Office productivity experts are frothing at the mouth over the convergence of online collaborative work spaces and enterprise social networks, which, ideally, would let users leverage profiles and online communities to work together more efficiently.
Huddle.net, a London-based startup, does just that, merging online collaboration and a social network with the launch of free Facebook virtual team work spaces at the Demo conference in Palm Desert, Calif., on Jan. 28.
Huddle.net lets consumers and businesses create secure work spaces, which can be open to groups or closed with specific permissions for each user. The concept is an alternative to the practice of using disparate collaboration tools that don't work together, Huddle.net CEO and co-founder Alastair Mitchell told eWEEK ahead of the event.
Combining collaboration technologies users would find in Google Apps with the social network traits of LinkedIn, Huddle.net software includes e-mail address book integration, intranet, extranet and team collaboration tools, calendar and task tracking, whiteboards, and automated workflows and alerts.
"Our vision is 'Work the way you play,' which is a new way for people to connect, collaborate and work together based on the lessons they've learned from the social networks but giving people the security and connectivity they would expect from an enterprise application," Mitchell said.
Integration with Facebook will let Huddle.net users create "Huddles," or online work spaces, where knowledge workers can share files, schedule tasks and approve actions. Huddle.net users can also add team members from friends and update profiles, all through Facebook.
Huddle.net has more than 10,000 users, but by integrating with Facebook, the company could benefit from the social network's larger platform stage (almost 60 million users), targeting the myriad business users and even software programmers currently using Facebook to communicate and collaborate.
This integration comes at a time when businesses are weighing how Facebook and other popular social networks may be leveraged for enterprise use.
At the show, Huddle.net also plans to introduce Huddle Desktop, an application that lets users drag and drop new documents or access Huddle content directly from their desktops.
Finally, thanks to the integration of the OpenSAM standard, Huddle.net will let users create and edit documents in Word, PowerPoint and Excel on any Web browser through embedded Web tools from iNetWord and EditGrid.
Finally, Huddle.net is allowing teams to huddle free. The free version includes three team work spaces, 1GB of document space and unlimited team members. Workgroups that require more room can license additional packages that begin at $19.95 for up to 10 Huddles.