Xobni Nov. 2 took the plunge into the business market, releasing a secure version of its e-mail search plug-in to let IT administrators give their employees an easy way to sift through content in their Microsoft Outlook inboxes.
Xobni Enterprise is shipping with prebuilt extensions for Salesforce CRM and Microsoft SharePoint, enabling Xobni to pull in info from those apps. Corporate developers can bring other enterprise data and applications from SAP, Oracle and other providers into Outlook through the Xobni client.
More than 3 million people have downloaded the free version of Xobni to help search their Outlook inboxes for contacts and attachments they would normally have to manually hunt for by scrolling. The application uses a ranking system to identify a user's most important contacts, and connects with Facebook and LinkedIn to surface contact profile information in those social networks.
eWEEK reviewed the program in July after the company launched its paid Xobni Plus solution, which includes advanced search, auto-suggest and other perks. It is the Xobni Plus app that forms the core of the Xobni Enterprise offering.
Users who find the tool useful tend to be knowledge workers, many of whom work in offices where Outlook is the de facto e-mail application. Outlook, as anyone who has used it for business purposes knows, can get cluttered in a hurry.
However, Xobni was not initially designed with enterprise-grade provisions in mind. Prospective businesses told Xobni things like "Love the product, but we need to find a way to control the deployment of this inside the company," said Eric Grafstrom, vice president of sales and business development at Xobni, who provided a demo for eWEEK.
After all, the plug-in does connect to services such as Facebook and Twitter, which scare many IT admins and are therefore forbidden in most corporate environments.
Xobni Enterprise includes a Web-based portal through which IT admins provision the app. From this portal, admins will have to click a check box to enable the Xobni Enterprise app to access Facebook, LinkedIn and the other social networks with which the plug-in connects.
During the demo, Grafstrom showed a user interface that recalls Facebook in its cleanliness. An admin can use the portal to provision the application for specific user groups, granting different permissions from anyone from top-level executives to front-line call center workers.
Xobni Enterprise also retrieves corporate profile information from LDAP/Active Directory services, a big time saver for admins who want to quickly grant workers permission to use Xobni.
There are also new features, including the ability to search calendar appointments, tasks and archived PST files. Also, each user's contact database can now be accessed from the auto-complete feature in the Outlook compose window.
Xobni Enterprise starts at $30 per user per year, with volume discounts. While the company will sell it directly, it is also relying on partners to sell its application to anything from small businesses with no IT staff to medium and large enterprises.
To wit, the Xobni Solution Provider Program is launching with premier partners, including Altius Consulting, Cogent, Echo Lane and Interdyne BMI, all of which will help customers integrate platforms such as SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce CRM.
Between 15 to 20 customers are already using Xobni Enterprise, though the company is not revealing who they are just yet. Grafstrom said he expects 40 to 50 partners to be using the solution by the end of the year.