Socialtext, a provider of collaboration solutions, recently released Socialtext 4.0, the latest edition of its enterprise social software platform.
Ross Mayfield, the company's chairman, president, and cofounder, says that, among the changes in this version of Socialtext's eponymous suite, five new features stand out in particular:
- collaborative groups;
- microblogging channels;
- microblogging searches;
- activity streams; and
- presence indication.
The platform had already earned a significant measure of respect in the field, landing in the Visionary sector of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social Software two years running. The company already claims a client roster of more than 6,500 organizations, including Mayo Clinic, McGraw-Hill, OSIsoft, Symantec, The Washington Post, Egon Zehnder International, and Epitaph Records.
[Editors' Note: CRM magazine covered OSIsoft's use of Socialtext in a two-part case study that appeared in the August 2009 print edition and in a subsequent blogpost. In September 2009, CRM listed Mayfield as one of the industry's Influential Leaders, claiming he "significantly impacted others in the social media vanguard."]
This week's release details why the platform has significant market traction: "Socialtext addresses the critical issues organizations face as their people and teams struggle to share knowledge, ideas and expertise. With Socialtext's enterprise social software platform, people and teams are synchronized, highly engaged and able to move fast."
Mayfield argues that a company's desire to increase the speed with which information is relayed from employee to employee is one of the main reasons Socialtext has been successful. He cites a Butler Group estimate that employees spend as much as a quarter of their day searching for people and information, thereby accounting for 10 percent of labor costs.
"We can cut into that very quickly," he claims. "And that will surface the needs the organization has for deeper use in groups and existing processes as within support."
Socialtext hopes the solution will help companies end this time-wasting by imagining a world in which one can ask a question without causing the interruptions of email and instant messaging.
The solution's Collaborative Grouping function will end the unnecessary large-scale conversations occurring inside companies by allowing users to filter down the conversations to only the groups of people and topics that matter.
Microblogging is another way to communicate with only the essential members of one's organization. Whereas with Twitter users can only create public lists, microblogging channels allow users the ability to form chat channels within a given microblogging environment.
Users of Socialtext 4.0 can also perform microblogging searches in ways Twitter does not allow. Unlike on most social networking sites, a microblogging search on Socialtext 4.0 will not produce a result that is four days old without also producing the conversation that preceded it.
"With 4.0's enhanced search capability," Mayfield explains, "users can search within microblogging and see the conversation that preceded it and the conversation that took place after it."
The new release also includes functionality covering activity streams and presence indicators, allowing members of a network to keep track of other users' blogposts, comments, and profile changes. Users will also have the ability to hover over someone's avatar to check that inidividual's availability across a number of different IM networks.
Asked whether version 4.0 might catapult Socialtext from Gartner's Visionary quadrant to the research firm's group of Leaders, Mayfield notes that his company had already seen "a bump up toward being in the Leader quadrant" in the most recent report, and predicts 4.0 will increase usage and seat count -- factors, he says, that can only help the company's chances of rising in the ranks.
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