Communities are fast becoming an important part of any business strategy — whether they are internal communities, customer communities, partner communities or some combination thereof.
The choices on technical solution are numerous — a recent Forrester report indicated there were over 100 community solutions in the marketplace today. This probably doesn't include solutions that come as part of a web content management platform. While we won't review all of them, CMSWire will take a look at some of the more well-known, and some not so well known solutions.
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The first community solution review we have for you hails from Sabre Holdings — these are the guys who bring us Travelocity and all those airline reservation systems we love to hate.
Recently released to the general public, cubeless is a hosted internal — or corporate — community solution. It is a simple community solution without all the functionality you typically see in the more well-known offerings, but that doesn't mean its not worth looking at. In fact, it may mean just the opposite — depending on your requirements.
We know that many organizations today are implementing or considering implementing some kind of community internally. They are starting to understand the benefits of internal communities such as knowledge sharing, expertise locating and employee team building.
There are a number of options out there today that can support internal communities. cubeless, is one of these. Built by Sabre Holdings, it is designed specifically for the corporate audience providing "communication the way we are use to communicating".
The mantra of the cubeless community is simplicity or "simplicity works". The community is about the people, not the technology and therefore all the extras are not really required, that's not typically the way people work.
cubeless is the recognition that enterprise social networking is helpful and encourages the sharing of knowledge and the reduction in effort to find people and information needed to do one's job.
The Basic Story
|Product Name ||cubeless|
|Product Category ||Social Software|
|Typical Scenario ||Corporate social networking, with blogging, profiles, Q&A, groups|
Company & Product History
At one time, Sabre Holdings had the largest data processing system. A private company with over 9,000 employees in 59 countries, Sabre securely manages mission critical applications for some of the biggest companies you can name — Amex, Lockheed Martin, Toyota, Apple.
Sabre built the first predictive modeling system over 50 years ago. Why is this important? Because it is this technology that drives the core of cubeless.
Primarily a travel technology company — they own Travelocity and a number of online travel reservation systems — you might wonder how Sabre ever got into social software like cubeless.
Well, they are their own real life case study. Sabre started playing with social networking solutions as an experiment for business travel in their innovations lab. However they soon saw another greater need internally. A geographically dispersed workforce that includes a number of telecommuters, Sabre's employees lacked a sense of connection with the company and a way to quickly and easily find people and resources to do their jobs.
Sabre kept the concept and rebuilt the code in September 2007, naming their first internal community: SabreTown.
The platform: cubeless. For eight months they productized the solution and in January of this year, officially released it to the general market.
Market & Pricing
As a new solution, Sabre is still working out the market for cubeless. However, we do know it's for an internal audience and is business focused. Its use can cross all functions in the enterprise — as do most community solutions.
This is a hosted solution with an Annual License fee, based on the number of users. It currently lists at approximately US$52, 600 for 10,000 employees. There is an install fee of US$ 15,000.
cubeless is offered as a standard package that is not customizable, so what you see is what you get. They say it takes about 4-6 weeks to install.
Key Features and Ratings
It is a white label solution so it can be branded to match the company using it.
The relevance engine, based on Sabre's predictive modeling technology is the key component to the cubeless solution. It uses both user profiles, blogs and existing Q&A to determine the top 20 people who would best have the answer to a new question and then delivers an email to those users requesting a response.
In cubeless, the main dashboard is called the "Hub". This is the landing page and the main communication page for the organization. There is a banner at the top that can be changed and there is one widget on the page that you can use for external content you want to make available.
Other widgets on the Hub include Ask A Question, Latest Community Question, Explore Profiles, Recent Notes, Hot Topics and more.
There is also an action stream on the right hand side of the Hub showing the latest activity happening in the community.
Navigation across the top of the Hub page lead you to the primary locations in the community, including Ask the Community, Explore and My Stuff.
One of the key components within cubeless is the employee profile. Every employee must complete a profile as there is no anonymous content allowed.
cubeless Profile Page
There are a number of questions that an employee must fill out. These questions are completely customizable to the particular company. They are used by the relevance engine to find people who can answer questions submitted by other employees.
Profiles are searchable.
Each employee has their own blog. The blog includes a simple text editor and a blog entry can contain hyperlinks and images that are located somewhere else. Blogs have threaded comments and can be rated.
cubeless does not contain Wiki capabilities.
cubeless does not contain Forum capabilities
Questions and Answers
Questions and Answers are the primary tool within cubeless. No question or answer can be anonymous, this is a completely open and answerable community.
Questions are categorized and the categories are defined by the company.
cubeless Questions and Answers
When you post a question, you can indicate how long the question will accept answers. This feature is useful because you can limit the time frame in which people can respond to your question. You certainly don't need people responding to a question about a proposal you are working on a year after it has been submitted.
Note in the image above two buttons on the right-hand side of each question. Clicking "Answer" will provide you with a form to write your answer. Clicking "Refer" will send an email to someone you think can answer the question.
There are also several options available as links underneath the question depending on if you asked the question yourself or are viewing someone else's question. "Watch this" places this question in your Q&A section so you can keep an eye on the answers coming in. "Shady" means you think the question in inappropriate. If you are the question creator, you have an "Edit" and "Delete" option.
The community can rate the answers to the question and you can nominate a particular answer as the best one. This one will be shown first in the list of answers.
You are able to create groups in cubeless. They are generally topic focused and can be either public, private or by invite only.
There is one owner of a group, but it can have many moderators.
Groups have all the same capabilities as you have as an individual with the exception of a detailed profile page. Groups also have the ability to add Photos and Group Talk which are group conversations.
cubeless has some additional capabilities such as:
- Activity Streams: cubeless uses Activity Streams for the community or group as a whole and not for an individual. These streams are displayed in several locations within the community.
- Following: You can follow specific people or groups, limiting your view by questions or blog posts. This is not quite like a Friends list in that you ask someone to be your Friend and then get a regular blast of their activity. Following simply puts all the activity you want to watch closely in a single location which can be pulled into an RSS reader.
- Sticky Notes: These are little 100 character notes you can write on your own profile or someone elses. They display on your profile as real sticky notes.
- Karma: Karma is a points systems. You earn points by doing good things like answer questions or people rate your answers highly. When you get enough Karma points, you can add additional photos to your profile.
- Mobile Access: The cubeless website can be viewed on a mobile device, but there is no specific mobile version of the application
Security and Administration
Security for cubeless can be automated through Active Directory. As users are added to Active Directory, then can get access to the community.