In a market that's gaining new interest by the minute, social software vendor Mzinga is trying to provide something for everyone. The company, which says it already manages 14,000 online communities worldwide, is rolling together its social learning and community products with the new release of Mzinga OmniSocial. The product brings forth three pie pieces: social networking, Web collaboration; and learning and performance management.
The vendor has divided its offerings into three common use cases:
- OmniSocial Marketing,
- OmniSocial HR, and
- OmniSocial Support.
"Categorizing communities is a challenging thing to do," says Matthew Lees, vice president and analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group. "There's so much overlap and so many ways to slice and dice them ... It's taken a little while, but a number of companies are taking the same approach and coming up with use cases and categories that ... seem to be having traction with folks out there."
According to Jody Petruzziello, Mzinga's vice president of products, the company had been working to tie together its internal and customer-facing product sets for the past few months. In March 2008, Mzinga acquired online community platform provider Prospero Technologies. Since the acquisition, the vendor has been focusing on integrating those solutions with its social learning and collaboration tools.
Petruzziello explains that the internal solutions, which are driven commonly by HR or marketing professions, center around employee productivity. Functions involve:
- Information sharing;
- Peer networking;
- Cross-organization communication;
- Knowledge management and collaborations;
- Pushing out traditional learning content; and
- Learning and performance modules.
The internal solutions are now blended with the outward, customer facing ones which allow for:
- Customers engaging with customers;
- the management of social media tools;
- educating partners;
- enhancing communication with partners and customers;
- fostering peer-to-peer support; and
- on the marketing side, deploying integrated applications on a corporate Web site.
Lees suggests that OmniSocial represents a fairly complete package, one capable of supporting a number of use cases. "[Mzinga] wisely chose three of most common use cases as a way of clients wrap their arms around what they'll get from it," he adds. The analyst also points out that we are in a day and age where what's happening inside the enterprise and what's happening outside is blurring. Separating solutions into internal or external no longer makes sense. "What's internal and external is becoming less important," Lees says. "Mzinga smartly is saying, 'We have a platform that supports collaboration, communication, and community. You can use it inside, outside, and with everybody in that mix.'"
Petruzziello says that with this release, Mzinga placed new emphasis on analytics, which had only been a beta feature in the past.
Lees praises the move to separate analytics from the basic feature set, noting that the demand for analytics has risen in social CRM applications. He also praises the vendor overall: "Mzinga is pretty strong across the board," he says. "The benefit you get from a platform that covers a lot of ground is that everything is integrated."
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