As companies desperately try to find balance between the social media craze and what works for business, vendors continue to hand out solutions like they're candy--especially those of the microblogging variety. The sheer number of options we have these days suggests that internal chatter is here to stay, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're handling it well.
Let's Give Them Something To Talk About
Roughly a year ago, Dave Rosenberg of CNET argued against microblogging for the enterprise, citing minimal benefits, an unreasonable character limit and poor integration as his main issues with the concept.
"When it comes to business, you don't want to read between the lines, as you do in your personal Twitter-verse," he wrote. "Even with enterprise e-mail overload and a never-ending supply of documents flying back and forth, at least you have the ability to state and substantiate a point."
Today we're still seeing similar solutions--albeit with a greater number of features-- and it seems like the majority of the enterprise is still fairly apprehensive about adopting them.
(Note: Interestingly, these solutions have become more integrated with e-mail like Rosenberg and several others wanted, but in the end it was integration that freaked everyone out, wasn't it?)
We're so used to talking about how heavily Microsoft and Google compete that it seems strange not to compare OfficeTalk to Google Buzz, but truthfully, Microsoft's new microblogging tool is much more like a Twitter + Yammer mashup. The platform includes profiles, a following option, search, threaded conversations, and, what we're assuming is to Rosenberg's disappointment, a 140 character limit.
However, Microsoft claims the Office Labs tool “applies the base capabilities of microblogging to a business environment." It does this by "enabling employees to post their thoughts, activities, and potentially valuable information to anyone who might be interested.” The company has been testing it internally for some time now, and considers it one of their most popular concepts to date.
Popular is certainly good, but as we saw with Google Buzz, that doesn't always translate over from the company to the general public. Accordingly, Microsoft is allowing interested parties to fill out a survey to see if they qualify to test the service before they officially release it.
Details about the solution are still nowhere to be found, but if OfficeTalk stays an internal toool, we honestly don't see it turning many heads. Without being cloud-based, it's just not that different from anything we've tried before (aside from the fact that it's from Microsoft).
It seems Microsoft is being extra careful about the release of this tool, and for good reason. Perhaps Google's hasty release of Buzz has something to do with it?
Novell Pulse is Like Wave for the Enterprise
Perhaps Google Wave would've gotten more attention if the initial focus was on the enterprise rather than the consumer. Here to test that theory is Novell and their new Wave-like platform called Novell Pulse. It's social, you can chat with it and collaborate on documents with colleagues, but its focus is on the business side of things.
Novell is attempting to differentiate their solution from Wave by claiming a wide variety of management, security controls and enterprise demands. Because it uses the Wave Federation Protocol, Pulse users will also be able to collaborate with Wave users.
Again, after seeing Google steamroll the world with their initial solution, it may be quite difficult for companies like Novell to grab the attention of the enterprise with similar offerings, but hey, we've got time. Moreover, we know how the enterprise feels about security, and that Novell is so big on that is a pretty huge plus.
As usual, we welcome your feedback on any of these issues. And though comments are great, it's also a good idea to get your hands dirty and your voice heard at E2.0 events:
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