Image via Socialcast
While many of your first responses may be something along the lines of "very, we have a Facebook and Twitter page" or "we're on the cutting edge and exploring the potential of Google+" there is yet another side to social networks. Increasingly people are finding themselves involved in their company's own internal social network. So, while much of the attention is given to the aforementioned networks, there is a growing number of networks being developed specifically for internal communication, collaboration and transaction.
Below are a few examples of some of the hottest business social networks on the market:
Yammer - "The Enterprise Social Network" formed back in 2008 may be the most popular and is currently used by over 10,000 businesses including AMD, eBay, 711 and Groupon to name a few. CNN recently produced a video explaining the network with interviews from CEO (and PayPal Co-Founder) David Sacks.
Convofy – As Inc. reports,"What makes Convofy different from the competition is the ability to do real-time annotation of Web pages and files, including PDFs, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets, right in the app. When you click on a thumbnail of a PDF in the message feed, for instance, the full file will pop up in a new tab. Then, you can use a Markup tool do things like highlight text and make comments.” Convofy is an application that is downloaded to your desktop and the basic version is available for free.
Bizzingo - Taking things a bit further, Bizzingo has launched its first phase of Bizznet; a B-to-B network with "the overall goal is to create highly index-able (and searchable) profiles that will allow prospective partners, vendors, and customers to identify potential areas for commerce and collaboration" as reported by Eric Sass of MediaPost. As chairman and CEO of Bizzingo, Douglas Toth, stated: "Bizz.net's new, exclusive business-to-business search platform and social network actually delivers targeted leads and, for the first time, opens up the power of the Internet to millions of businesses who only seek to market and connect to other businesses for the purpose of transacting business."
Socialcast - Founded in 2005 and acquired by VMware in 2011, Socialcast adds yet another integration to the mix - outside partners. Again, as MediaPost summarizes well, "[Socialcast] announced that businesses, which use its software to create proprietary social networks, can now selectively add partners, suppliers, and customers to these networks in special guest profiles, called "External Contributors," with access restricted to certain discussion groups, forums, or projects. This step should make the social platform more collaboration- and transaction-oriented. Previously the proprietary networks supported by Socialcast were basically limited to the actual employees of each business. While network administrators could add non-employees, they were then included as full members, which might not be appropriate for some outside business contacts. Socialcast is also introducing a new org chart feature, which should help everyone keep the boundaries straight."
In summary, it seems like calling these companies a mere "social network for your business" just doesn't do it justice. Indeed they are prime examples of collaborative enterprise and lend insight into how we will work in the future. More on that to come!