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    How We’re Leveraging Scale to Improve Socialtext

    At Socialtext, we’re proud to offer a flexible software as a service (SaaS) business model that delivers the enterprise social tools people need to perform their best work — but with the security, flexibility and integration required by IT to make them a strategic asset inside their organization.

    As business models in the Enterprise 2.0 world evolve, we’ve examined how we can streamline our sales, trial and provisioning process to get companies up and running even faster. The launch of the Socialtext Virtual Appliance — a VMware image that contains the most current version of Socialtext — created a huge opportunity for us to move in that direction.

    So today, we’re announcing two new offerings that build on that vision.

    1. The Virtual Appliance Trial

    Launching in May, prospective Socialtext customers can select, try, evaluate and buy their Socialtext solution by downloading the Virtual Appliance directly from Socialtext.com. This delivers IT a full private instance of the Socialtext platform, without encountering any of the friction that hardware-supported, traditional, behind-the-firewall deployments usually entail. It also gives companies the ability to host their data as they try Socialtext, something we know the market craves as some freemium models hold IT captive to buy their data back from vendors.

    2. Expanding channel partner programs

    Today we’re also announcing the ability of a new distribution channel via our partner program. In addition to our referral, reseller and integrator partners, we’ll be rolling out the ability to distribute Socialtext via a network of OEM Partners. In doing so, we’re making it easier for traditional application vendors to make Socialtext a social layer that spans the entire enterprise. To learn more, please e-mail partners@socialtext.com.

    As we are now in a position to insert scale and leverage into our business model better than ever before, we have reorganized our resources in the way to best capitalize on these opportunities. We look forward to passing the benefits of scale and leverage on to our customers, and to the exciting work in the months ahead.

    InformationWeek: Socialtext Named Number One Social Software Vendor

    InformationWeek released its Enterprise 2.0 Vendor Evaluation Survey, an assessment of enterprise technology vendors that deliver social applications inside the enterprise. Not only did the survey find staggering adoption of social software across organizations, Socialtext ranked number one in overall performance, beating out competition new and old.

    Alex Wolfe, the editor in chief of InformationWeek.com, authored a summary of the report, and put the findings into context:

    “We use two sets of criteria to rank vendors. The first set rates the relative importance of 12 standard benchmarks used for all product sets. The other measures vendors against criteria tailored to specific features and capabilities customers seek in the product category–for Enterprise 2.0 applications, these include the ability to integrate with internal applications, quality of the user interface, and completeness of the feature set. Notably, respondents to this survey favored smaller players like Socialtext even when we delved into very specific Enterprise 2.0 features”

    Our friends in the Enterprise 2.0 echo chamber will debate the methodology, but we like the premise of it: Rather than interviewing the vendors, this report is based on the feedback from more than 600 IT professionals. While Socialtext participates in many analyst assessments of the market, those reports tend to be much more subjective, favoring larger and less innovative vendors that check off features rather than adding real business value. We believe social software is successful when it exists firmly in the flow of work — enhancing, rather than ignoring, the business processes a company has in place.

    Our strong performance in this report reflects what’s been a universal goal for Socialtext the past few years: Let’s deliver the simple, social tools that people want to get their job done, while giving IT the security, scalability and flexibility they require — all with the low total cost of ownership that comes with Software as a Service.

    During our all-company meetings, Eugene, our CEO, always says the best innovations come from customers (and the vendors who are smart enough to listen to them). For us, this customer-focused approach is helping us deliver social software that enables people to perform their best work with colleagues. This survey is a nice reminder that we’re having some great success.

    Free KMWorld Webinar Tuesday: Improve Business Performance with Social Software

    At Socialtext, we believe that social software implementations are successful when they complement and enhance key business processes a company already has in place. By bringing people to the forefront, social software brings context and awareness to the valuable knowledge and content being shared throughout the enterprise.

    Those will be among the topics covered on Tuesday’s KMWorld Webinar at 2 p.m. Eastern: “Social Tools For Business: Engage, Optimize, Collaborate.” (Click that link to register for free). My colleague, Alan Lepofsky, will discuss how Socialtext customers are utilizing social software to improve business performance and key performance indicators (He will name and cite specific case studies). He’ll also show how one company has deployed an enterprise-wide intranet to leverage organizational knowledge and improve context behind that knowledge.

    The webinar will be moderated by Andy Moore, KMWorld’s publisher, and will also feature content management speakers. It promises to be an interesting mix of perspectives, and we hope to see as many of you there as possible. There will be Q&A session at the end, when you can field questions to Alan and the other speakers.

    A little background on Alan:

    Alan has deep roots in the enterprise collaboration world, having worked at IBM for 14 years before he came to Socialtext in 2008. He works very actively with our customers and product teams, and has been a leader in our Socialtext Connect product offering — which allows people to integrate traditional enterprise systems with our social software platform.

    We hope to see you Tuesday!

    Companies Aren’t Communities

    Companies aren’t communities. They aren’t forums.

    Companies are companies.

    Of course company life has community aspects, and those community aspects can be quite important in getting the job done. But a lot of social software folks seem to forget that there’s a lot more to a company than community. They treat companies as if they were consumer communities or forums that all just happen to have their paychecks signed by the same person.

    Why does the difference matter? Let’s look at the numbers. Online communities and forums typically attract very small audiences relative to the total target population: Less than 1% adoption is typical, and 5% adoption would be a grand-slam. That’s fine for the consumer web, but those numbers inside the enterprise aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

    Successful enterprise implementations of social software have orders-of-magnitude higher adoption rates. For example, yesterday I was in New York meeting with Getty Images. Getty’s Socialtext implementation is seeing 95% active adoption. Those are the numbers we’re looking for inside the enterprise!

    So how do we get there?

    Companies, by very definition, have reporting structures, established workflows, shared systems and processes, defined roles and responsibilities, and closely managed performance. Those are assets we don’t have in communities and forums, which are typically ad-hoc groups of individuals–mostly volunteers–in a collective endeavor without clearly defined roles, processes, reporting, deliverables, or metrics.

    Getty and others achieve the adoption rates they do by integrating their social software into all those structures, workflows, systems, processes, roles, and responsiblities. As Getty’s Director of Learning and Development, Jennifer Fox, told me today, “We no longer going to teach people how to use Socialtext. We are going to teach them how to do their jobs…which happen to require the use of Socialtext.”

    I’ve been saying for a few years now that companies achieve adoption and business value when they place social software in the flow of work. The tools achieve real benefit when people do their jobs–not their evenings-and-weekends jobs, but their actual “day” jobs in social software. That’s when it becomes woven into the fabric of a company’s business processes. Adoption is almost a foregone conclusion, because that’s where you do your work. Business impact is demonstrable because business processes are measurable.

    What, specifically, does this mean? It depends on your business, but it’s things like:

    • Your company Intranet is social (i.e., built and/or integrated with social software tools like wiki workspaces, microblogging, and social networking)
    • Marketing and Product post sales collateral in your social software tool (not in email!)
    • Customer Support’s knowledgebase is collaboratively maintained in social software (again, not in email!)
    • The executive team and other key teams keep meeting agendas and notes in social software
    • CRM, ERP, and Enterprise Learning systems automatically post major events in social software
    • Quick links to important resources are available–and maintained–in social software
    • Technical Help Desks and other internal support functions field requests via social software

    Contrast that with an online community, like a gaming group or a technical forum. In communities, there is no flow of work. That’s because most people don’t come to communities to do work. They come to get support help, to swap tips, to praise, to complain, to socialize. Even those people who come for professional reasons are casual, sporadic visitors. The only person who really works there day-in-day-out is the forum/community manager.

    There are three groups of people who cling to the “company as community” concept: the “kumbayeros” who wish that companies were as open and democratic as communities, public community managers whose consumer-facing experience has shaped the way they view all online social interaction, and community software vendors who are looking to re-purpose their consumer-oriented products for the internal market.

    In the enterprise, we need to take a more pragmatic approach. As the old saying goes, “The business of business is business.” Social software fails when it tries to turn businesses into consumer-style communities. It succeeds when it turns businesses into better businesses.

    If a document falls in Sharepoint, and nobody hears it…

    If a document falls in Sharepoint, and nobody hears it…does it make a sound?

    That play on the old tree/forest cliche popped into my head this week while some Socialtext colleagues and I were meeting with senior IT staff of a Fortune 100 manufacturing customer of ours. They’re a big Sharepoint shop, and mid-way through the meeting we had a revealing exchange:

    IT Executive: We’re a heavy Sharepoint shop
    Us: Cool. How’s adoption?
    Executive: Frankly, it’s pretty awful.
    Us: Why?
    Executive: No one goes to Sharepoint on their own. If you email them a link to a document, they’ll click on it, but they won’t go in by themselves.
    Us: Suppose someone adds a document to Sharepoint of potential interest to me. How would I know it was there?
    Executive: Someone would have to email you the link.

    I’ve had this conversation several times now, with lots of different Sharepoint shops. People don’t go into Sharepoint because they don’t know what’s in Sharepoint. And when they do go into Sharepoint, it’s to retrieve not to collaborate.

    There are two problems here: lack of transparency, and lack of agency.

    First, transparency. If you can’t see what other people are doing, you can’t very well collaborate with them. Second, agency. Collaboration has many dimensions. It’s not just co-authoring a document (though that’s a good start). It’s a whole range of social activities around sharing, liking, tagging, rebroadcasting, etc.

    Sharepoint makes me think of a cocktail party where you can’t overhear guests who aren’t speaking directly to you, and can’t tell other guests about the conversations you’ve just had. That party would quickly face an attendance problem, just as Sharepoint has an adoption problem.

    Social software adoption requires collaboration. Collaboration requires transparency. You can do all the change management and attend all the conference break-out sessions you want, but you won’t get adoption until you deliver transparency and agency.

    The good news is that there’s an answer to this problem: activity streams. Twitter and Facebook have proven that activity streams are the most effective tool we have for letting folks know who is doing what and where. And they’re the only effective tool we have for making those events social, by enabling others to comment, like, tag, re-tweet, etc.

    Of course Twitter and Facebook didn’t have nearly the traction they do today when Sharepoint 2010 was being scoped and coded. So while there are glimmers of transparency and activity streams in Sharepoint 2010, they are incomplete features at the margins of the user experience.

    The social software world evolves faster than Sharepoint does, which is why it’s good to have smaller, nimbler players in the ecosystem like Socialtext. We’re smaller, our development cycles are shorter, and we’re more sensitive to firehose of learnings from the exploding world of social software.

    Socialtext’s Sharepoint integration pulls Sharepoint events into the Socialtext activities feed. And it “socializes” those events by enabling colleagues to comment, tag, link, etc. Further integrate these evens with feeds from other systems like a CRM or ERP system, and you’ve really got something transformational. And we can send the resulting integrated feed wherever it needs to go: Sharepoint, mobile, Adobe Air, iFrame, you name it.

    That document falling in Sharepoint will make a sound–a sound which can be answered, amplified, harmonized, rebroadcast and, yes, very much heard.

    Socialtext 4.5 Unveiled at Enterprise 2.0 Conference

    Yesterday was a big day for Socialtext and our customers, as we released Socialtext 4.5 at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Socialtext 4.5 builds on our goal of removing knowledge silos inside companies that stifle cross-departmental and enterprise-wide collaboration. As I write this post, my fellow Socialtexters are setting up our booth and hitting the conference sessions to talk with business and IT leaders about how they can get the most business value from social software.

    First a little context on the news yesterday. Socialtext proudly operates as a software as a service company. We also run on an innovative, agile development cycle. That means we make improvements to our software every few weeks. Consequently, 4.5 highlighted many of the major features that our dev team has been hard at work on the past couple quarters. Like all our releases, our devs and product team do a great job of listening closely to our customers to put together features and improvements that help them accelerate their company’s business performance with social software.

    With 4.5, we announced the addition of Socialtext Explore, a new feature that allows employees to find and discover not just links, but all the microblogging messages, pages, posts, pictures, and files they share with each other at work. We also announced a pre-built connector to Salesforce.com, which enables Socialtext customers to choose actions of virtually any type that happen in Salesforce.com, and automatically inject them as events into Socialtext’s activity stream. The connector was built on Socialtext Connect, our integration offering that allows you to integrate traditional enterprise systems with social software. Connect enables customers to build their own connectors to systems of all shapes and sizes. The Salesforce.com connector follows the launch of SharePoint Connector for Socialtext Connect earlier this year.

    We were excited to see extensive coverage on Socialtext 4.5 from great media outlets like TechCrunch, CIO, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb and many others, and I encourage you to take a glance (the deeplinks lead to the article for those respective publications).

    Also yesterday, our president and co-founder, Ross Mayfield, co-hosted the Enterprise 2.0 Bar Camp with industry luminary Susan Scrupski of the 2.0 Adoption Council. By nature, BarCamp is designed as an “unconference,” where attendees literally create their own sessions based on topics of interest. One cool thing about BarCamp this year is that it falls a little after the fifth anniversary of the first BarCamp, which was held at Socialtext Headquarters in Palo Alto.

    Ross led a session about “bringing enterprise 1.0 to enterprise 2.0,” in which we had some spirited conversation with attendees about how to align social software with existing business processes. Ross highlighted what has long been a passion for him and guided much of his thought leadership in pioneering the Enterprise 2.0 space: How social software can help exceptions to business process. This topic relates to a webinar we had recently, in which the Deloitte Center for the Edge discussed how OSIsoft (a Socialtext customer) improved its customer resolution time by 22 percent. We also recently highlighted how an accounting firm, Hayes Knight, utilized Socialtext Connect to tie its CRM system into a central activity stream. In that case, accountants cut the time in which they served customers in half.

    We’re looking forward to watching our customer, Larry Housel of Industrial Mold & Machine, talk tomorrow about how large enterprises can learn from his company’s use of social software. On Thursday, Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee will discuss the state of microblogging in the enterprise, while Adina Levin, our co-founder and VP of products, will talk about using open web standards to help integrate social software with other key applications across the enterprise.


    The Social Software Grassroots Myth

    Call me crazy, but I’m going to attack another another social software orthodoxy: the Grassroots Myth.

    The Grassroots Myth is my name for the notion that the most effective way to bring a new social software platform into an enterprise is through bottoms-up, viral introduction.

    There’s something very right about the Grassroots myth, but also something very mistaken.

    Like all good myths, this is based on a heroic legend. The details of the story vary from one company to the next, but the central elements are almost universal. It all begins with a single, junior-level employee. I’ll call him Joe, after Joe the Plumber, the “common man” immortalized by a

    Joe the Plumber, Grassroots Myth Icon Extraordinaire (Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/38729188@N00/2987725752)

    bizarre moment in John McCain’s presidential campaign. Joe is hard at work on a project or task that requires exchanging lots of ideas and content with colleagues across the organization. Joe sports an iPad and reads Tech Crunch daily. He’s tech-savvy, but doesn’t actually work in the IT department. Late one night it occurs to him that some sort of Facebook-, Wikipedia-, or Twitter-like collaboration tool could really help. So Joe does a little Internet research, finds a cheap or free hosted service, and –Voila!– that very night he is up and running. He posts some content and invites a few colleagues. Then, as the commercial goes, he tells two friends … and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on. Six months later, the whole company has adopted the tools and Joe is a hero.

    It’s a wonderful story: the little guy who transforms his company through the power of a great idea.

    It’s not quite that simple.

    There are certainly Grassroots success stories out there, but they’re the exception not the rule. The more common experience is less rosy. Joe is working on his project, finds and sets up some collaboration software, and invites his colleagues on the project. His colleagues use the software to collaborate, and really like it. They tell a couple friends, but the friends are busy and not as tech-friendly as Joe. They like the concept, but can’t quite visualize it. They ask Joe to show them, but somehow the meeting keeps getting postponed. Joe launches the tool with another project he’s working on, and the same thing happens: the tool works great for the project, but goes no further. Joe demos the collaboration tool for his manager, Jane. Jane loves it and invites Joe to demo for the entire department. A few people ask Joe to set up accounts for them, but after a few days they misplace the login information and never go back. Joe continues to push the tool for his projects, and people continue to like it … as long as Joe is leading the charge. IT gets wind of the project and expresses concern that company data is being hosted externally by an unapproved vendor. Joe gets accepted to Harvard Business School (having impressed the Admissions Committee with his essay on collaboration). Joe leaves, and the company settles back into its (inefficient) email-based collaboration habits.

    What happened to Joe, and why do so many social software innovators cling to his myth in the face of real-world experience?

    I said before that there’s something very right about the Grassroots myth. That’s the content part. What you really want inside the enterprise is what I call “Content Grassroots.” This is distributed content creation from the ground up. This is the community that spontaneously forms around a shared interest in pediatric medicine, the engineering team that decides a wiki workspace is the best place to manage project deliverables, the sales manager who posts a photo in order to show a new demo booth to colleagues in other regions, the virtual conference that attracts hundreds of colleagues to a real-time brainstorming “tweet-up” on improving the customer experience. This is social software in action. This is where Joe really shines.

    A lot of people confuse Content Grassroots with another type of Grassroots effort which is less benign: Technology Grassroots. Sourcing a new technology, platform, tool, or application via the Grassroots is an exercise in confusion and frustration. You end up with multiple solutions, all competing for attention. End users are sent to lots of different destinations, apparently for no good reason. There’s little or no integration with existing applications or data flows. Users don’t know which tools will survive and which will die. IT is concerned about security, performance, and stability. Organizational silos are reinforced, not diminished. Worst of all from a social networks standpoint, the company’s attention is fragmented across multiple tools, each of which struggles to achieve critical mass.

    That’s where our mythical Joe usually fails in reality. When it comes to social software, your technology can’t be driven from the grassroots.

    The most effective way to empower your Content Grassroots activity is to provide a single, unified, integrated technology. Invite everyone in. Integrate with company Directory and Single Sign-On. Integrate with other enterprise applications. Make sure everyone knows that it’s secure and it’s not going away.

    Then let them blast away.

    Here’s one way to put it: Content grassroots good, technology grassroots bad.

    Here’s an even simpler way to say it: IT owns IT, and content owners own content.

    Crazy? Obvious? Accurate? Stupid? Tell me what you think…

    How to Beat those Social Software Adoption Blues

    Does social software adoption have you singing the blues? If so, you’re not alone.

    In the enterprise social software world, everyone’s talking about adoption. There are breakouts on it at Enterprise 2.0. Lots of smart people are blogging about it. There’s a LinkedIn forum. Heck, there’s even a whole Council dedicated to it.

    Why is adoption such an issue?

    Most people blame their adoption blues on organizational culture. Eavesdrop on adoption conversations and you’ll hear things like this:

    • “Our culture rewards people for hoarding, not sharing.”
    • “People over 30 just don’t get social networking. Unfortunately, that’s exactly who we need for this to succeed”
    • “Middle management isn’t comfortable with transparency.”
    • “We have a culture of email that’s hard to change.”

    To borrow a phrase from always-quotable Dennis Howlett: What a crock.

    To borrow another phrase from the also-quotable Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us.

    Social software adoption becomes an issue when companies impose their own barriers to adoption. Not cultural barriers, but operational barriers. They sabotage their own social software aspirations by making the tools available in ways that are guaranteed to frustrate all but the most determined users.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: enterprise social software gets adopted when it’s placed in the flow of work, rather than above the flow of work.

    I get a lot of nods when I say that, but most enterprise social software tools live very much outside the flow of work. It’s almost as though the company is trying to keep them as far away from the flow of work as possible. I’m not talking about complex workflows or business process engineering. I’m talking about dead-simple, nuts-and-bolts usability barriers that stand between a typical employee and enterprise social software adoption. Take a clear-eyed look at most social software implementations and you will likely find that:

    • It’s yet another place to go for information
    • It’s not required to get any job done
    • It requires an additional login and password
    • It’s positioned as a pilot, so everyone sees it as temporary

    Given these barriers, it’s no wonder companies are disappointed with enterprise social software adoption. It’s almost as though they’re going out of their way to prevent their employees from using social software as a real work tool. It’s like they’ve invited their company to a fantastic party with great food, fantastic drinks, and a killer band. But they’re throwing the party miles away from the office in a place no one has heard of. They’re not providing transportation, nobody has a map, and there’s no GPS coverage. No wonder people aren’t coming.

    If your social software implementation isn’t getting widespread adoption, ask yourself which of these applies. You’ll probably find that at least half of them do, maybe even more.

    The good news is that these things are pretty easy to change. They’re not big, abstruse, concepts like culture, psychology, generational mindsets. They are straightforward implementation decisions, many of which may be under your control.

    Let’s get specific. When I compare Socialtext customers who struggle for adoption to those who achieve mind-blowing success, the difference comes down to a few simple, actionable best practices:

    • Make it your Intranet. This is the single biggest thing you can do to drive adoption.
    • Make it the primary destination for must-have information: HR Forms,
      the company directory, new hire information, IT support requests, C-level blogs. That’s honey which attracts people to your site–even
      people who aren’t tech early adopters.
    • Integrate with your company directory and, ideally, Single Sign-On (SSO). People are busy. If you require an extra login prompt or worse yet an extra password to manage, you’ll lose a lot of them–upwards of
      50%, according to some Socialtext customers
    • Integrate with enterprise search. This one’s pretty clear, but it’s remarkable how few companies actually do it
    • Integrate with existing enterprise applications. When social software provides a window into other enterprise applications, it moves
      to the center of your company’s flow of work.
    • Launch to your whole company, not a small subset. Take a look at my earlier post on why you should Skip the Pilot.

    Companies that follow these steps are doing everything they can to drive their employees to social software, rather than away from it. The results are striking. I predict–and this is probably conservative–that you’ll see a 2x – 5x increase in adoption when you implement these changes.

    So which category are you in? Are you driving employees to social software, or are you driving them away?

    Aberdeen Study: Embrace Social Software and Improve Business Performance

    Social software can help a company improve their core business processes and performance across the enterprise — from sales and marketing to support and product management — and it’s something we strive to highlight through case study work and blog posts about our customers.

    But, as is an age-old problem for proponents of collaborative technologies, it’s sometimes difficult to show these benefits quantitatively. So when Aberdeen Group sent us some hard data that proved companies that embraced social software as a strategic, enterprise wide-initiative saw improvements in business performance, we were very happy to sponsor it (click here for a free copy).

    The report surveyed 300 enterprises, and broke them down into three categories based on the maturity and sophistication of their social software adoption (best-in-class, industry average and laggard). I encourage anyone considering the benefits of social software to read the entire report, but here’s a few highlights:

    1. Companies that widely harnessed social software (best-in-class) took on average 11 hours to bring a response team together for a key business threat, while industry average companies took 105 hours and laggards 113.
    2. Best in class companies took five months to complete key strategic projects, while industry average companies took 8 months and laggards a staggering 14 months.
    3. Best-in-class companies saw a 36 percent decrease in time to enact key business changes based on customer feedback, while laggards experienced a 17 percent increase.

    This data about social software improving business performance mirrored what the Deloitte Center for the Edge found in its research about Socialtext customer OSIsoft. During a webinar for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, Deloitte reported that OSIsoft saw a 22 percent decrease in the time it took to resolve customer support issues due to its use of social software for handling exceptions to business process.

    The Socialtext team has been thrilled with these findings, and we look forward to sharing more customer stories like this soon.

    GT Nexus Builds “The Grid” To Facilitate Enterprise-Wide Collaboration

    Here at Socialtext, we work hard to communicate the importance of transparency and sharing information openly inside companies to foster greater innovations and drive better business results. We believe in it philosophically, and design our products to work well under that paradigm.

    So when we have a customer who feels as strongly about it as we do, we know we have a good fit — and that has been the case with GT Nexus, an on-demand cloud supply chain technology company with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. With Socialtext’s enterprise social software platform, GT Nexus built “The Grid,” a place where all departments share vital company information, such as implementation best practices, key sales & marketing materials and technical product knowledge.

    “Every time someone plans to send an e-mail or completes a phone call, I want them to ask themselves: ‘Could someone else benefit from this information?’” says John Atherton, Vice President of Solutions Consulting & Knowledge Management at GT Nexus who championed The Grid. “I’m a big believer in explicit versus tacit knowledge, and the importance of getting more knowledge to be explicit — in this case, using enterprise social software to do it. This is true for both internal and external knowledge pools alike.”

    Using Socialtext Signals, a secure enterprise microblogging tool, GT Nexus employees can keep each other updated on the changes made within The Grid, keeping new stuff in the flow of work. The teams also use it to exchange deal-related data, an important aspect in global sales cycles. With easy-to-edit Workspace pages, any employee can update critical content that their peers need to do their jobs more efficiently and serve customers better.

    Prior to Socialtext, John says that GT Nexus relied on Windows shared folders to exchange documents and collaborate. This proved inefficient, as they grappled with version control and limited search capabilities. Now, the goal is to keep information current on The Grid ( the company’s “central nervous system”), and use robust tagging to help GT Nexus employees find the people and information they need to serve customers and prospects.

    Just how pervasive has GT Nexus’s use of enterprise social software been? Here’s some use-cases that span across departments.

    • Sales and marketing –> To keep sales and marketing better in synch, GT Nexus keeps all of its sales collateral and marketing material inside The Grid in a workspace fittingly called the “Collateral Center.” Now, when a sales representative walk into a meeting, they can be confident they have the most current materials (white papers, webinars, powerpoints) that explain the benefits of GT Nexus products. On the technical sales side, this means sharing demo scripts and sample EDI documents by industry vertical.
    • Supply Chain Knowledge –> GT Nexus helps some of the world’s largest enterprises efficiently manage their inbound and outbound supply chains. Coupled with the ever-changing technical landscape that is could computing, this requires GT Nexus to chronicle the best practices around the supply chain and IT disciplines, which is now kept inside The Grid.
    • Technical Knowledge –> All the best FAQs and product requirements are kept up to date in a central workspace. As GT Nexus improves and modifies its products, the documentation surrounding those are kept up to date, such as release notes and recordings. In-depth product configuration documents are also available.
    • Purely Social –> And it’s not all work. The GT Nexus Signals stream routinely sees updates on general social activity — a new employee visitor, a department-sponsored happy hour or a personal success are some examples.

    GT Nexus utilizes Socialtext’s flexible SaaS appliance. It gives GT Nexus the ability to deploy Socialtext behind the firewall and hook it into the company’s existing infrastructure, while still getting seamless updates to the software sent from Socialtext. John believes, however, that internal collaboration is just the beginning. He is already adding another Socialtext appliance, where GT Nexus can securely and privately interact with external customers and partners (a B2B Extranet).

    “This will help our customers stay in touch with the products and services we offer, and will improve our ability to serve them faster and better than ever before,” John says.

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.


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