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    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.


    Four Reasons Why We’re Betting on the Open Web in the Enterprise

    Last week, I blogged about why “Social Software needs to be a Layer, not a Feature, in the Enterprise.” Now, from an architectural perspective, I’ll riff on what we’ve done to make this a reality. Back in June, we launched Socialtext Connect, a new offering that enables companies to surface critical events from enterprise applications and inject them as streams into our social software platform, where employees across an organization collaborate and take action.

    On a high level, we made a strategic bet with Socialtext Connect that an embrace of Open Web standards and REST APIs will make it easier for companies to integrate their traditional systems with social applications.

    Here are four reasons we have made bets on the open web in the enterprise.

    1. REST APIs — We’re developing to where the puck will be, not where it’s been. We’re helping channel the wave of open web standards inside the enterprise firewall. A large number of enterprise IT departments have been rethinking their approach to their enterprise architecture, using REST instead of SOAP – for faster and more agile development cycles, better scalability, and cleaner separation between client/device and server/service. We’ve focused on REST as our API strategy from the very beginning, and we’re doubling down on that bet with Socialtext Connect.
    2. Bringing architectural patterns, not just Twitter and Facebook, from Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0 — We continue to monitor emerging patterns in the consumer Web 2.0 space for relevant value within the enterprise firewall. The most recent of these are Twitter Annotations, Webhooks, and activitystrea.ms – all of which we’re incorporating into Socialtext Connect. Our co-founder, Adina Levin, has also blogged about the power and usefulness of these standards in the enterprise.
    3. To escape application silos, the Social Layer needs to be usable by non-users of applications — Ease of use remains key – application streams and App Bots are designed to facilitate productive, context-based conversation around reports, events, and exceptions in the underlying application, by injecting these into what was previously only a channel for conversation between people. AppBots aren’t just persona that “tweet” – they are interactive agents that can respond to queries and drilldowns by users – all of which contributes rich context to the overall conversation about a specific event or exception. This video can highlight what I mean.
    4. We’re trying to straddle and connect the applications and social worlds without binding you to either — With regards to integration and architecture, we take a different approach that our competitors in the Enterprise 2.0 world. Some believe that social technology should be an add-on feature to their departmental application, and therefore produce a programming model that’s an extension of their application model. Others think social software should be a heavyweight Java container, where you pour your development resources, time and money. Our objective is to enable you to liberate information, events, and transactions from application silos and the user community silos that are captive to them – by liberating your development resources from a monolithic, stack-bound development model.

    By embracing open web standards and making social a layer in the enterprise architecture, we’re already seeing how this can play out with our customers. As we shared recently, Hayes Knight, an accounting consultancy in Australia, used Socialtext Connect to integrate their CRM system with Socialtext Signals to make it easier and faster for the company’s accountants to collaborate and answer important customer questions.

    “The speed with which we’re answering questions has been cut in half, and is a full 7−8 minutes faster on average,” says CTO Jack Pedzikiewicz, a very active member of our SocialDev community, which shares best practices on Socialtext Connect. “The wonderful thing is, as we capture these great answers inside of Socialtext workspaces, we also cut back on repetition where questions cover the same issue and build best of breed responses and knowledge on key issues of importance. It allows us to serve our customers faster and more consistently.”

    We believe Hayes Knight’s success is just the beginning, and look forward to sharing more customer stories in the coming months.

    ReadWriteWeb WhitePaper: Building the Social Layer on a Web-Oriented Architecture

    As enterprises begin integrating their traditional enterprise systems with social software, we have spent a lot of time at Socialtext thinking about how this should be done from an architectural perspective. With Socialtext Connect launching in June, we have made a firm bet that open web standards will make it easier for companies to integrate applications of all shapes and sizes into their “social layer.” So we worked with our friends at ReadWriteWeb to highlight that strategy in a whitepaper, which was released today (click here to download your free copy or scroll down the page here).

    The report is titled “The Social Layer: How the Rise of Web-Oriented Architecture is Changing Enterprise IT.” As the paper explains, a social layer enables employees to access information from a variety of enterprise applications and colleagues across organizational silos. In an open — yet secure — environment built on microblogging and activity streams, employees discuss, collaborate and take action on the real-time information being pumped into the social layer to serve customers better and drive new business opportunities.

    We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to hearing your feedback.

    The Social Layer

    View more documents from ReadWriteWeb.

    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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