Last week when we spoke with Michael Idinopulos about Socialtext’s partnership with Badgeville, I was curious about his title, Chief Customer Officer. As you may recall, earlier this year, we examined the evolving roles of the C-suite and the impact of social business within the enterprise. It’s not everyday that I meet a bona fide Chief Customer Officer, so naturally, I had some questions for him.
If you were to choose any company who’d have a Chief Customer Officer, Socialtext would be a good guess, given their social collaboration expertise. But I wanted to know what was behind the title and how his views about the customer experience influence how Socialtext works. Let’s listen in.
Like it or not, gamification is here to stay and help bolster user engagement. Employee engagement has become the holy grail in private companies and government agencies, as numerous studies show that engaged employees are far more productive, and stay longer than their non-engaged peers. Companies are increasingly using gamification to reward and recognize both their trading partners and their employees.
When gamification capabilities are added to social software, the idea is for companies to access data and analytics that should provide much needed insight into employee behavior, and then reward employees in a way that increases their commitment to what they are doing while also keeping them aligned with company goals. To that end, Socialtext, a renowned provider of enterprise social software, announced its partnership with Badgeville, the leading gamification and behavior management platform, to infuse gamification capabilities into its variety of applications, widgets, and mobile tools.
Socialtext has been engaging employees through its social technologies, and gaming dynamics are a cornerstone of that strategy. In partnering with Badgeville, Socialtext will use Badgeville Embed with the aim to enhance the overall user experience and increase engagement while better understanding user behavior. Badgeville Embed, a purpose-built offering for software providers, enables these vendors to incorporate proven engagement techniques right into the flow of their applications, with the intent to drive desired user behaviors that maximize customer value and boost their renewal rates.
Earlier this fall, Badgeville announced the launch of its gamification and behavior management platform for Drupal. Today, enterprise social software provider Socialtext is getting in on gamification in the enterprise. Its has announced a partnership with Badgeville, in an effort to infuse gamification capabilities into a variety of applications, widgets, mobile and more.
Certainly the enterprise is no stranger to gamification. By 2014, Gartner has estimated that 70 percent of the world’s 2000 largest companies will embrace gamification in some form, not to mention that with gamification companies can help create customers and solve problems more easily. But implementing gamification requires more than just adding voting buttons or providing incentives for participation. With Badgeville, SocialText is taking enterprise engagement to the next level.
Through the partnership, Socialtext will utilize Badgeville Embed to enhance their overall user experience and increase engagement while better understanding user behavior. But how can we improve employee engagement with gamification?
Socialtext will add gamification capabilities to its enterprise social networking (ESN) suite via a partnership with Badgeville so that its customers have more tools to increase user engagement.
Through an integration with Badgeville Embed, planned for early next year, it will be possible to offer users game-based incentives to engage with the Socialtext enterprise social collaboration suite, whose features include employee profiles, activity streams, groups, microblogging, intranets, wikis and document sharing.
Badgeville Embed lets companies configure reward systems to motivate employees and customers to do certain tasks within third-party software, including enterprise applications, websites and mobile apps.
Employees can earn badges, awards, points, leadership recognitions and the like. Badgeville Embed also collects and usage data so that customers can analyze it and get a better sense of user engagement levels with the software in question.
Gamification software has become a popular tool among enterprise IT departments that want to foster increased usage of employee applications, intranets, collaboration software and external websites.
Socialtext has been around the block, from its early design as a mass collaboration wiki in 2002 to the full blown enterprise social software platform where it is today. In conversation with Michael Idinopulos, general manager, he said, "I like to think of Socialtext as the whole social enchilada. We are one of the few social applications with everything." Blogs, wikis, social networking, and its Socialtext Connect enterprise integrations are the new norm on desktop or mobile devices.
Recently, Socialtext acquired investment capital from Bedford Funding and a partner relationship with Peoplefluent™, a leading Talent Management solutions provider. In light of its new relationship with Peoplefluent, Indinopulos said, "Social software deployment requires that it integrates the daily flow of our work lives. We are focusing on real productivity solutions that integrate well with the flow of work."
Socialtext already demonstrates how its customers are working more productively on a day-to-day basis. For example, SE Railway station engineers and conductors in London carry 600,000 passengers a day, are using Socialtext on a Blackberry. And assembly workers in Twinsberg, Ohio are taking advantage of Socialtext messaging on an iPad in real-time as they go through their machine runs.
McKesson sees specific gains as a result of making purposeful use of social networking technologies and measuring the impact. The pharmaceutical distributor and healthcare information technology company is using social business technology to unify support for its software products in the electronic medical record and practice management markets. McKesson's Physicians Practice Solutions had acquired several products in recent years and needed to consolidate support, services, documentation, account management, product development and product management.
McKesson is using Socialtext's social intranet platform to enable communication among employees in its various channels, including those dealing directly with customers or with value added resellers and those providing policy and product content. McKesson measures the success of its social initiatives using key performance indicators. For example, since implementing social technology and practices the average speed to answer customer calls has decreased 66% and same-day resolution of customer concerns has improved by 12%, said Timothy Kelly, executive director of customer support.
Socialtext, a provider of enterprise social software, launched a 30-day free trial giving businesses of all sizes instant access to navigate and discover the benefits of using Socialtext's social business platform.
According to a release, with implementation and integration into existing practices, the free trial of the Socialtext platform provides a risk-free route into experiencing the added business benefits that social collaboration can provide to any business in any industry.
"We're thrilled to offer a free trial of Socialtext so users can familiarize themselves and become comfortable with the Socialtext platform," said Michael Idinopulos, Chief Customer Office and General Manager, Socialtext. "We're tremendously proud of Socialtext and its ability to transform the way work gets done. This 30-day free trial will dramatically expand our visibility in the market and introduce the platform to limitless companies who will love it as much as we do." Socialtext has been in social collaboration for nearly a decade, delivering increased employee productivity by adding social functions into the flow of work. Departmental silos that previously hindered communication throughout an organization can now be eliminated, allowing employees to become more engaged in their company's daily business. Socialtext empowers employees with the ability to collaborate together, providing new streamline processes shared throughout their entire network.
Socialtext is giving your company 30 days to try its product with no restrictions. You can include as many users as you want, you can access the APIs and the mobile apps, and you can buy it or not as you see fit after the trial period. It's not exactly the freemium model used by some other Enterprise 2.0 vendors, but it's a way to test the waters without committing to the product.
A 30 day trial should give you a chance to set up Socialtext in a sandbox kind of setting and figure out how it works, but the timeframe is going to be fairly limiting for many customers who may need more time to understand how to make a social software system work optimally for the organization. Unlike some software packages, it's not just a matter of installing it and understanding how it works; the social aspect of it presents unique challenges.
Socialtext, a provider of enterprise social software, has launched a 30-day free trial to provide businesses of all sizes instant access to navigate and discover the benefits of using Socialtext’s social business platform.
The free trial provides a risk-free route into experiencing the added business benefits that social collaboration can provide to any business in any industry.
“We’re thrilled to offer a free trial of Socialtext so users can familiarize themselves and become comfortable with the Socialtext platform,” said Michael Idinopulos, chief customer office and general manager, Socialtext, in a statement.
“We're tremendously proud of Socialtext and its ability to transform the way work gets done. This 30-day free trial will dramatically expand our visibility in the market and introduce the platform to limitless companies who will love it as much as we do," said Idinopulos.
Social is sweeping into the enterprise with astonishing speed. Corporations, government agencies and nonprofits are using social tools such as blogs, wikis and Twitter-like activity streams to collaborate internally, with both customers and the general public. It's an undeniable trend and it's quickly picking up speed.
The opportunity is immense. Most enterprise technology is in the business of automating human tasks: taking the creativity out of work and replacing it with rigid, formal process. Social software does just the opposite; it fosters, encourages and empowers the natural creativity of human beings working with each other towards a common goal.
Industrial Mold & Machine in Twinsburg, Ohio, makes custom molds for plastic bottle manufacturers and others. Most of the 40 factory workers and engineers have an iPad with access to the company’s social platform. They use the technology to help optimize the manufacturing process for each custom job. When a manufacturing problem arises, workers use the platform to access design specifications, including 3-D renderings, and communicate with other workers and engineers to solve the problem, according to Michael Idinopulos, general manager of Socialtext Inc., which created the social business platform.
This can be thought of as a twist on total quality management, where the quality of products and processes is a responsibility shared by everyone. In total quality shops, any worker can stop the assembly line when he spots a problem. At Industrial Mold, any worker can initiate activities on the social platform that lead to quick solutions.
"Everyone on the floor and everyone in the front office talks to each other as they get the job regrouped without calling a timeout to huddle in the office," Idinopulos says. Industrial Mold now produces 20 percent more output with 40 percent less labor, he adds.
Social software now serves many functions and can provide the organization a platform to enable multiple business tasks and operations from one system. The use of mobile has further increased the capabilities of social software to provide a flexible framework that capitalizes on social technology collaboration even at the shop floor level.
The case study below is from Socialtext which highlights how a manufacturing company not only decreased cycle times, saved money, increased collaboration and assisted with scheduling of resources. This is where social technology was applied to a non-traditional environment (manufacturing) of which the results speak for themselves.
One of our greatest success stories comes from custom mold and manufacturing leader, Industrial Mold and Machine (IMM). They have been leveraging Socialtext not only to address their core communication issues, but also to improve manufacturing processes on the production floor. IMM implemented Socialtext as a way to share information from order to production, in essence uniting front and back offices with unified information. Additionally, IMM uses iPads, which are provided to all of their mold makers on the production floor to tie order details to the manufacturing process. Leveraging Socialtext on the iPads, enables IMM to smooth and accelerate the production process, which typically is a dynamic one, with the need to react and implement changes in real-time. With Socialtext, those changes are communicated, recorded and centralized for future learning and innovation.
Socialtext applies Web 2.0 technologies to making work easier and more collaborative. Michael Idinopulos, interim CEO of Socialtext, joined us for a conversation about how social tools have transformed the enterprise and the challenges companies face preparing for a social future.
In your own words, what is enterprise social, and how do you fit into this market?
If you look at what has happened on the consumer web over the last several years, people are coming together, finding each other, collaborating, and networking with the help of all kinds of new, dynamic tools and processes. But at work, people are still emailing each other. So our mission is to bring all of those collaborative tools and techniques that have transformed the consumer web over the last few years into the enterprise, so that they can make work easier, more interesting, and ultimately more productive.
What sets you apart from other companies in this space?
It’s very easy to make “Facebook for the Enterprise,” so we try to go well beyond that. What really makes Socialtext unique is that we are trying to integrate, synthesize, and adapt Web 2.0 tools and processes in a way that makes sense for businesses. That doesn’t just mean taking something that works for consumers and making it available at work. It means really thinking through how people work together in organizations – what are their everyday challenges, and what can the consumer web tell us about how to address those challenges?
With business social networking platforms, profiles perform an important function. They allow employees to describe their skills and experience, which in turn allow colleagues looking for internal expertise to identify the right people for the right projects. Check to make sure that user profiles can be easily created and updated, and are rich and discoverable. Socialtext profiles include the kind of information needed to find the people you are looking for — whether you know them or not — to help you with a project.
In the early days of Enterprise 2.0, social software was great for basic, toolkit-style functionality. Blogs and wikis provided convenient frameworks and reference materials for doing customized tasks. Although, there wasn’t much functionality for businesses that ran a great number of routinized processes.
Looking back, it’s amazing what we have accomplished in just a few short years.
Social software has changed, and changed quickly. Over the past few years, businesses have started to embrace social software and today, social software is flooding the enterprise. We are amidst what can only be described as a social revolution, entering an age when employees can be more connected than ever before and are breaking down department silos, regardless of their geographical location.
Enterprise social networking has become a valuable tool for businesses, providing a solution that encourages sharing, captures knowledge, enables immediate action on tasks and empowers employees to collaborate in real-time. This results in an escalation of work efficiency and productivity, but enterprise social software delivers more value when it crosses silos. This is how you enable new relationships to be shaped amongst employees.
Examples where enterprise social software can help your business and your employees become more dynamic include: getting a question answered by the most knowledgeable person or receiving immediate assistance to resolve a challenging customer problem.
The Web-based Socialtext, for example, starts at $5000 a year for 50 users, though Socialtext tells prospective buyers that it is “scalable” according to company size. The platform can also be modified—somewhat like a Wordpress blog—with a “theming editor” that allows individual companies to configure the system with company logos and colors.
The Motley Fool, the financial services company, calls its themed version of Socialtext “Jingle.” The left column features business Intranet mainstays like information about company benefits; a middle column hosts Facebook-style posts from company employees; the right column features videos and “important news” designated by company management.
The Motley Fool implemented Jingle, executives said, because email had become too much of a digital water cooler—with company-wide emails about birthdays and after-hours gatherings, for example, cluttering inboxes of people who didn’t want or need the information.
The Motley Fool uses Jingle—built on the Socialtext platform—to provide access to benefit information, as a virtual water cooler for workers, and to update them on the latest news.
The senior leadership finally decided the company needed a change, said Jeb Bishop, The Motley Fool’s VP of creative services. “They were annoyed at separating the wheat from the chaff. We’re kind of a chatty company.”
Social enterprise software maker Socialtext is today announcing having received strategic investment from Bedford Funding that will now see the service joining the Peoplefluent family of products. Bedford Funding, for those unaware, is a $1.4 billion tech investment fund and owner of Peoplefluent, the maker of Talent Management software for business customers.
Following the investment, Socialtext will be integrated into Peoplefluent’s own Human Capital Management (HCM) Suite, which focuses on offering tools to help companies recruit better. With the Socialtext integration, employees on the suite will be able to collaborate with each other and their greater enterprise, the company says.
Eugene Lee, Socialtext CEO, will remain CEO of Socialtext but will now report directly to Peoplefluent Chairman and CEO Charles S. Jones.
Socialtext, a Palo Alto company that makes social software for businesses, is becoming a subsidiary of talent management company called Peoplefluent, the companies said Tuesday.
Socialtext isn’t calling the deal an acquisition, although that’s what it appears to amount to.
Peoplefluent, based in Raleigh, N.C., is owned by $1.4 billion private equity firm Bedford Funding. Bedford has been building up a portfolio of talent management software companies that it has combined to form Peoplefluent.The companies said that Bedford is making a large investment in Socialtext, adding them to the portfolio. The amount was not disclosed.
Socialtext said it will keep its name and its employees and customers will be largely unaffected, but CEO Eugene Lee will now report to Peoplefluent CEO Charles Jones.
"We are the new flagship presence and hub for growth for all of the Bedford family," Lee said when I caught up with him by phone. He said Bedford has already tapped several people to relocate to Silicon Valley. Socialtext has less than 50 employees, Lee said, but he expects the company to at least double by the end of the year.
Socialtext adds a social layer to Peoplefluent products and gets funding to market itself more aggressively.
The technology investment fund Bedford Funding is buying Socialtext and making the social collaboration software company part of the Peoplefluent family of products, which revolve around recruiting, training, and the category known as Human Capital Management.
Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee said his company will continue to compete in the enterprise social networking market as an independent subsidiary, but it will also provide a social software layer to make other products in the Peoplefluent suite work better together.
Although Bedford Funding announced the transaction as a "strategic infestment," Lee confirmed the firm has in fact bought Socialtext outright. "They are now our only investor. In addition, they are providing a considerable amount of cash as working capital set aside for operational growth."
Bedford created Peoplefluent from a series of acquisitions, including Peopleclick and Authoria in talent management and more recently Strategia for online training. The business was renamed Peoplefluent last June and began investing in extensions for mobile users. Now, Peoplefluent is rounding out its portfolio with social collaboration, following somewhat the same strategy as Saba, with its People Cloud enterprise social network, linked to a suite of training and capital management tools.
Weber Shandwick built a custom system on Socialtext's platform that lets employees do things like post status updates and share video and other large graphics files. By the time it launches, the MyWeberShandwick internal communications network will include a mobile app that employees can use from their iPhones and Android smartphones.
"Yes it will reduce email volumes, but more fundamentally it will allow us to more quickly deliver more of our services to clients. I think the more fundamental benefit is doing better work. A manifestation of that is happier employees and fewer emails," Fry says.
"As one of the employees who'll benefit from this, less email will be a nice thing," says Matt Marcus, a Weber Shandwick employee.
Fry won't know how successful his initiative will be with other employees until 2013. Other Socialtext clients already have achieved noticeable results. Hanover, for example, reduced employees' email use by 90 percent and voice mail use by 95 percent after switching to the collaboration platform, according to Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee.
Socialtext Inc. announced that the company continued to see profits throughout 2011 and is predicting even more revenue during 2012. Socialtext Inc., a company based out of California, specializes in enterprise social software that helps employees collaborate on multiple projects.
The enterprise social software comprises an integrated suite of web-based social software applications such as microblogging, user profiles, groups, dashboards, widgets, shared spreadsheets, and other collaboration tools.
Socialtext said its main focus is to help businesses improve performance on a daily basis. “Socialtext accelerates business performance by making it easier for employees to find the colleagues and the information they need to solve challenges new and old,” said the company. “By simplifying people’s ability to share expertise, ideas, and corporate data, Socialtext removes knowledge silos that have traditionally hampered companies’ ability to respond.”
Socialtext, the leading enterprise social software provider, has announced that the company continues its corporate momentum by achieving operating profitability in 2011. Through a continued dedication to customer service and developing superior technology, the company predicts an increase in profitability for 2012.
“This accomplishment has proven our business model is a success,” said Eugene Lee, CEO, Socialtext. “We are dedicated to providing the best possible customer service to our clients, offering the tools and convenience necessary to maintain and grow adoption of enterprise social networking throughout the company. At Socialtext, we don’t just sell a solution; we solve efficiency problems and help employees communicate and collaborate easily and more efficiently.”
In another example of how enterprise social collaboration is bringing organizations together, Socialtext, a leading provider of enterprise social software, has launched a strategic partnership with NetDocuments, one of the best known Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) content management service providers.
One of the first entities to take advantage of the partnership is the ClimateWorks Foundation. The nonprofit supports public policies that prevent dangerous climate change and promote global prosperity.
ClimateWorks is using the integrated Socialtext application to enable its global network of non-profits to collaborate on strategy, learn from others, share best practices, and reach goals faster. This is the first "social knowledge exchange" implemented in the non-profit sector, Sarah Nichols, director of knowledge management (KM) for ClimateWorks, said in an interview.
The partnership is paying dividends. Within three months of deploying Socialtext, ClimateWorks’ adopters saw a 37% reduction in departmental email traffic. Now, with more than 500 users, ClimateWorks says it will continue rolling out the solution to its global network.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past couple of months, then you’ve no doubt heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2011. SOPA called for a crackdown on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content.
SOPA, which was recently killed by sponsor and House Representative Lamar Smith, would have represented a fundamental change in the way the Internet works today and would have undermined all Software as a Service (SaaS)/cloud companies. If the bill had passed, it could have been a sign that additional countries could follow suit with their own legislation which would inevitably hurt businesses operating internationally and their ability to provide services in other countries.
Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex) have decided to postpone further action on the piracy bills that have led to some of the biggest protests in web history. With President Obama and FCC Chairman Genachowski both agreeing that some response to piracy is necessary, the fight against the first iteration of SOPA may be over, but the task of negotiating rational legislation is just getting started.
We have seen generalizations about how piracy legislation would negatively affect American business and innovation, but there has been very little time to develop a better understanding of what these negative impacts might be. With this in mind, I had a chance to sit down with Eugene Lee, the CEO of SocialText, a social networking service provider for corporations that operates on the software as a service model, to talk about how SOPA, PIPA, and future piracy legislation might have impacted both his business and the SAaS industry as a whole.
Prior to the selection of Socialtext, some employees had started using Yammer for social collaboration. Bishop said his team decided Socialtext offered the same kind of microblogging capabilities as Yammer, but could also take over managing corporate content that had been stored in the wiki or in SharePoint. Socialtext got its start as an enterprise wiki software company and has layered on social networking features. The current version of the product is Socialtext 5.0, which includes the Socialtext 360 feature for matching contacts based on interests or specialties.
Bishop said he found Socialtext easy to customize for a "very Motley Foolish" look that encourages employees to claim it for their own. The company's developers have even added custom widgets to the site, taking advantage of an API based on Google Gadgets and OpenSocial. The home page features a place for the latest video produced for internal consumption, often featuring one of the company's latest premium services or ideas about how to improve service to readers and customers.
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