RealTime IT News

Twitter for the Enterprise? Ask Socialcast

Small to medium size companies may get on the social networking bandwagon –- eventually.

But creating wikis, blogging and the other components of social networks don't often get high priority at companies with limited IT resources or the time and expertise to implement and manage them.

Socialcast thinks it has one solution with the latest version of its on demand social networking tool. Socialcast 3.0, launched today, is a micro-blogging service with a self-service model designed to facilitate fast implementation. The messaging platform can be used to either complement or replace a company's intranet on a workgroup, department or even organization-wide basis.

According to Socialcast CEO Tim Young, the platform can function as a kind Twitter for the enterprise, a collaboration portal for knowledge sharing within the organization that even those at remote locations can participate in via email and smartphone mobile device.

"We've found that employees are using consumer services to complement what they have in-house because IT isn't giving them tools like Google Reader that they can also use at home," Young told InternetNews.com. "We thought it would be great to be able to surface knowledge to your colleagues from wherever you are and leverage the collective intellect."

Socialcast 3.0 is also Software as a Service (SaaS) which means companies don't have to invest in additional hardware to host the offering. "Look at what IT already has to spend on Exchange servers," said Young.

The release comes at a time when a raft of other companies, such as Socialtext, are trying to win over business customers with social networking alternatives to the likes of Facebook that can be run securely behind the firewall. Young said Socialcast is targeting the SMB market with a "frictionless" offering.

Teams and workgroups can sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service and then pay via credit on a monthly basis with no early termination fees. Cost is $5 per user per month or a negotiated rate for volume users (over 1,000).

Users can set alerts for new posts by specific users, add comments, rate and vote on entries. Socialcast 3.0 lets you add links to Twitter, Digg and other social networking sites. "As more enterprise vendors open up their APIs, our goal is to connect to those tools as well, so this becomes a messaging hub," said Young.

Forrester Research analyst Tom Grant said Socialcast is one of many attempts to create a focused use case for social networks in the enterprise. "I've talked to even some very large companies that don't know how to proceed with social networks," Grant told InternetNews.com.

"But companies are realizing there are gains to be made when, for example, you can post a question to an interactive forum, than sending it out via email where it could easily be lost or ignored."

While there is a lot of trivia and incidental content on sites like Twitter ("I'm leaving now to pick up groceries for dinner"), Grant said a focused application like Socialcast could help users, for example, get quicker access to experts within their company.