Forget Dear Abby. Enterprise social software provider blueKiwi is encouraging its users to ask Alice. With the new release of blueKiwi Social Business Hub, the vendor arms employees with tools to collaborate, foster communities, and act upon insights. It also provides users with Alice -- A social community virtual assistant, who gives community managers real-time tips and best practices for keeping the community lively and beneficial.
In developing this release, blueKiwi kept the community manager particularly in mind, says blueKiwi Chief Executive Officer Carlos Diaz. The blueKiwi Social Business Hub is a destination for managing multiple communities. The dashboard-like Hub presents users with alerts and reminders on community life. It also encourages internal and external collaboration -- letting users invite members into groups for discussion. According to Diaz, the Hub allows users to view communities according to their preferences. The hub includes:
- An inbox where employees can see a stream of recent messages and notifications as well as a list of personal action items to be acted upon.
- Group activity where users can see all of the community activity as well as hot-topic conversations.
- A personal dashboard with a series of widgets that allow users to survey the most critical aspects of you communities and external feeds.
Another new capability is what blueKiwi calls Social Ideation. The feature aids users in following through with concepts and ideas presented in communities. "With the Ideation Process you can go beyond the conversation and take the best ideas, evaluate them and track a process of moving those ideas into reality," Diaz says. "Once they become a reality you can easily move that idea back into the community and tell them that is it available for them to use." In addition to Social Ideation and Alice the assistant -- which Diaz says is one of the company's key differentiators -- blueKiwi has also added microblogging to it collection of tools.
In the 2009 Gartner Research Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace, the analysts positioned blueKiwi in the Visionaries quadrant for its "understanding of social interaction support." The report pointed out that blueKiwi is a small company without a big presence outside of Europe. Diaz says he hopes for that to soon change. BlueKiwi plans to expand its presence in the U.S. by opening new offices in New York and San Francisco in 2010.
"BlueKiwi Software gained early traction with large European organizations (and more recently in the small or midsize business [SMB] market), with a product focusing on information sharing and employee networking," points out Gartner analyst Nikos Drakos. "It offers comprehensive functionality, ease of use and multiple deployment options (SaaS and on-premises deployment), with strong participation, social networking analytics, microblogging, extensive community management, polling and ideation."
Gartner also pointed out in the report that BlueKiwi could have stronger collaboration tools. Diaz says that the company will improve upon those tools, but notes that the product is built around people -- not documents. "[BlueKiwi] is about creating communities around your external partners and customers and leveraging those conversations in order to deliver better products and services based on market needs," he says. "In order to do this you cannot just add a social layer to a collaboration tool. You have to architect an environment that is built around people, fosters interaction and conversation and has a process for bringing the best ideas internally for ideation and product delivery." As the company moves forward with its focus on people and conversations, more mechanism for collaboration will emerge, Diaz says.
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