Communication has always been a key factor in determining the efficiency of how companies do business. For a long time, fax, telephone and email managed to facilitate business communications and saved companies a lot of time and effort. Today, social media comes into play, it opens new channels that give any company’s communication methods a whole new untapped dimension. From Wikis and shared feeds, to online real-time collaboration and microblogging, there is a new generation of platforms that aim to tackle this area and give your business the tools it needs to fit as a 2.0 enterprise.
Most Popular Enterprise 2.0 Social Platforms
We, here at Thoughtpick, were interested in researching the Enterprise 2.0 social platforms out there. Obviously we found many, we checked out most of them and decided to bring you the 5 most popular ones according to compete stats, with Yammer being the most popular.
Below are the top 5 picks along with our opinion:
1. Yammer: It takes microblogging to the Enterprise Arena. It provides a simple way for employees to connect and share by posting short – 140 char - messages. It builds on Twitter’s concept that we have all grown accustomed to, and adds corporate necessary options such as employee profiles, file sharing, groups and organizational charts. Recently it rolled out some new features that include a revamped iPhone app, “like” options, threads and an improved search.
Thoughtpickers’ opinion: The power of Yammer - like Twitter – lies in its simplicity. It provides a very simple and clean interface that allows for easy flowing interaction between employees – interaction that is built on 140 char text messages. Yammer is mainly a microblogging tool and thus it lacks some features that other Enterprise 2.0 social platforms offer such as wikis and feeds. With over 40,000 companies worldwide signed to Yammer, one should not neglect the power of this tool. It’s worth checking out.
Pricing: Yammer’s basic features are free. It offers 2 upgrade plans: Silver for 3$ per seat per month, and Gold for 5$ per seat per month.
2. CentralDesktop: A comprehensive platform that offers Wikis, Blogs, Forums, Content Management Systems (CMS), Search, and Intranets & Extranets to Project Management, Online Documents & Discussion Threads, Workflow and Micro-blogging. It’s main edge in the collaboration market is that it combines asynchronous teamwork with discussions and live meetings. CentralDesktop’s main target is midsize companies or departments within larger companies, usually with 100 to 1,000 end-users.
Thoughtpickers’ opinion: It doesn’t surprise us to know that CentralDesktop has been voted “Best of the Web” for collaboration by Business Week. The platform offers real strong and comprehensive collaboration tools. They also boast solid ROI (Return on Investment) in comparison to their competitors. It may not be as solid as Yammer in terms of microblogging, but it certainly has a lot more to offer.
Pricing: CentralDesktop has different plans for different groups. Plans for small companies ranges from free for basic features to 99$/month. Companies with 25+ employees are offered a plan with 10$/user/month. NGOs have special pricing of 3$/user/month
3. SocialCast: A simple, secure, free collaboration tool that helps employees communicate in real-time. Its software combines social bookmarking features, Twitter-like microblogging and FriendFeed-like streaming into one platform. SocialCast has more similarities to Facebook than Twitter, it provides comments and “like” features over people’s messages. It also allows attaching files, creating groups, and integrating your account with other 3rd party services around the web.
Thoughtpickers’ opinion: We like SocialCast, its interface is as simple and clean as Yammer’s interface. It does also replace Yammer’s question of microblogging message from “What are you working on?” to “What’s on your mind?” which makes me feel better as an employee since you can share other things with your fellow workers rather than just what you are working on. SocialCast offers more features than Yammer and is aiming to be a complete platform rather than a tool.
Pricing: Basic features are free. You can upgrade for an extra price but they don’t state how much on their website. You have to call them to check that out.
4. SocialText: Another collaboration platform that allows organizations of all sizes to collaborate, decide and change faster. It includes social networking, microblogging, wiki workspaces with integrated weblogs, distributed spreadsheets, and a personal homepage for every user. Connectors to Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Connections are also available.
Thoughtpickers’ opinion: SocialText is both comprehensive and simple. It provides both excellent social networking and enterprise collaboration tools. It brilliantly offers all those tools for free for up to 50 people within an organization. It just lacks the popularity of Yammer.
Pricing: It’s free up to 50 users per company, then charges 6$/user/month.
5. Rypple: A web-based service similar to Twitter. It provides ‘collaborative’ functionalities and will be adding face-to-face meetings and collaborative editing soon. It offers peers and bosses the ability to ask a question and provide anonymous answers, and also to search questions for tags and popular words. Rypple is mostly about getting feedback from co-workers than sharing and collaborating with them.
Thoughtpickers’ opinion: “Real simple = Real results” is Rypple’s motto. While yes, Rypple is indeed the simplest tool on our list, it is also the most limited one. It has very little to offer and doesn’t match the offering of any of the other services reviewed, yet. It can work for you if feedback from your employees is what you are looking for.
Pricing: It is free for individuals and teams up to 2o users. For enterprises with 21-1000 it charges 2$/user/month. Larger enterprises have to call in order to check out for special offers.
It may not be easy to figure out what best suits your business. Some people are still reluctant about using social media features in their enterprise for the many risks that they may impose, others are moving forward with their enterprises into the 2.0 era. There are many other platforms and tools trying to grab a chunk of the rather new Enterprise 2.0 market. For the time being, Yammer is leading the way and growing at a good pace. Will others manage to follow up? Let us know your opinion and your favorite Enterprise 2.0 social platform.