Building the Killer Desktop

Convergence Corner

Building the Killer Desktop

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  August 17, 2010

Social media, it’s all the rage. Why? If you read Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies, by Paul Dunay (News - Alert), Avaya’s Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing, you’ll know there are more than 400 million Facebook users, more than the population of every country in the world, save China and India (I wonder if it’s possible to hold elections based on Facebook (News - Alert) friends… but that’s a different discussion entirely.)

And Twitter grew 1,400 percent (or more, if you consider mobile usage) from February 2009 to February 2010.

93 percent of respondents to a recent Cone, Inc. survey said they believe all companies should have a social media presence, and 85 percent say it should be used for interaction and engagement, not merely information dissemination. And in fact, already two-thirds of the Fortune 100 uses Twitter for direct-response customer service, according to Dunay’s book, and Facebook, according to Alexa.com, is the second most popular Web site in the world.

So we can all agree that social media is becoming a significant part of customer communications – for more, be sure to check out The Social CRM Expo

But, if these tools and capabilities are so valuable for external communications, it follows that they should also prove effective within the enterprise, which is why so many vendors are already tackling Enterprise Social Media.

“A lot of vendors are doing enterprise social software, because informal processes and informal knowledge sharing is important,” explained Milind Pansare (News - Alert), Senior Director of Product Marketing at Saba. “The issue is, how do you measure the social network, the social capital, the true contributions of individuals, when you have people using multiple means of communication, the results of some of which are not really quantifiable?”

Saba (News - Alert) Live, the company’s recently released enterprise social media platform, is what Pansare calls a “full fledged social platform, based on the notion of a unified user profile and including structured search,” as well as Saba’s real-time collaboration suite.

Aside from the business communications featured delivered through Saba Live – including integration with existing email software – the fundamental difference between Saba and the public social media platforms is security.

“Unlike other platforms that started with the religion that social networks should be open, we started with one that was built for enterprise and government, with fine-grained access control so everything is secure. If you define a group, only that group has visibility into your resources and messaging.”

In a nutshell, Saba Live takes the features from many familiar social media sites – along with a look and feel that makes users feel comfortable – and brings it into the business environment. Importantly, because it is a secure platform, it extends the value of bookmarking beyond merely Web sites to ongoing projects materials, team resources, HR documentation, videos and audio recordings, and anything else that might be useful to team members and increase productivity.

Because these resources all are bookmarked on a user’s profile, it eliminates the need for multiple people to store the data, reducing storage requirements, and also eliminates the time wasted searching for data, since it is always bookmarked. Further, the structured indexing allows even non-bookmarked content to be found quickly within enterprise data stores, based on topic, creator, content, or any other sortable criteria.

Much like social media sites allow comments, voting, and other forms of approval/disapproval, Saba Live integrates an idea engine, allowing group members to suggest ideas for produce enhancements, meeting agendas, or nearly any other topic. Other group members then have the ability to weigh in a vote topics up or down, allowing popular topics to be easily identified (as well as less popular ones), quickly and effectively delivering a prioritized list of activities.

Of course, there is also Saba’s live conferencing capability, which can be launched directly from within the platform, allowing users to easily and quickly engage their colleagues via voice and/or video, including content and screen sharing. Pansare believes Saba’s is the first enterprise social media platform that truly integrates a full Web conferencing solution.

“What social platforms have done so far is enable asynchronous communication. There hasn’t been that real time notion that makes it easy to contact team members and discuss [key topics],” he added.

The key, really, is that Saba has taken a feature set and a visual appearance that consumers have adapted it for the business community, integrating various communications media and resources into a single easy to use and manage desktop interface. And importantly, it can be extended to customer and partner groups as well, enabling secure collaboration and resource sharing.

“It’s a platform for getting work done, not just for social chit chat,” concluded Pansare. “It’s not just about activities and what people are doing, but enables groups to securely collaborate.”

And though he stopped short of calling it the killer desktop, he did note that most vendors are reluctant to talk about theirs in such terms, despite believing they have, indeed, built it.


Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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