Spoke Revs Hosted Enterprise Social Networking Application

The startup plans to offer Spoke Workgroups in the spring for smaller sales teams that want to tap into social networking without deploying software.

Spoke Software Inc. is planning to release by June a hosted version of its enterprise applications that will increase the options for businesses wanting to hook into social networking, company officials said.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company this week announced Spoke Workgroups, a Web-based version of its Spoke Accounts applications designed for smaller groups of salespeople, said Chris Tolles, Spoke vice president of marketing. Spoke Accounts was one of the first enterprise applications the company launched in November and helps sales departments manage and monitor their accounts by analyzing connections.

Social networking, the idea of mapping the degrees of separation among relationships, first gained attention in the consumer space with sites such as Friendster Inc. and online dating. Also on Thursday, America Online Inc. entered the field with a new service from it ICQ instant messaging group.

Vendors also are tapping social networking for enterprises. Spoke does so both by having a public network, called the Spoke Network, and by offering applications for enterprise to create private networks of their extended relationships. Spokes software mines peoples relationships through e-mails and contacts lists, and then maps the various connections.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about the push for enterprise social networking.

With Spoke Workgroups, the company is trying to reach groups that dont want to deploy software to mine and map their social networks. It is most appropriate for groups of less than 100 people and allows them to create a private network of co-workers and partners to help in setting up meetings and researching clients, Tolles said.

"People want choice about how to deploy this," Tolles said. "Part of the vision we had from the beginning was to span from the individual to the enterprise."

Spoke Workgroups also includes integration into CRM systems, most closely with Salesforce.com Inc.s hosted CRM service, he said.

Pricing for Spoke Workgroups has not been set, but it will be on a per-user, per-month basis, Tolles said. Spoke has about 20 customers already signed up for Workgroups and has begun beta testing ahead of a full release this spring, Tolles said.

Spoke Workgroups customers include Bank of America Corp., Automatic Data Processing Inc. and the Atlanta Falcons football team.

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