Cloud-based social enterprise solutions provider Saba Software is enhancing the platform supporting its flagship People Cloud application. The platform upgrades will provide new People Cloud features in areas such as mobile applications and Big Data.

Saba’s efforts to enhance its cloud technology are in response to the evolution of a “new world of work,” according to Saba Senior Director of Product Marketing Chris Tratar, who briefed CMSWire about the developments. “There are different workforce expectations in areas such as social, mobile and collaborative technology. Personnel are at a point where social and mobile are part of their everyday lives. However, on the corporate side, enterprise systems have been slow to take advantage (of these technologies).”

Tratar said Saba “reinvented” its cloud platform to make social, mobile and collaborative capabilities a foundational piece while using open standards such as REST. Saba also added learning and talent management capabilities.

“Learning is 10 to 20% formal instruction,” explained Tratar. The rest is interaction, sharing information and on-the-job learning.” Thus, he said People Cloud lets users “tap into expertise” of other users with a “learner-centric” interface. People Cloud also supports formal learning and lets users sell learning and training to partners outside the organization. Management of learning is decentralized and information can be delivered in “bite-sized chunks” for users on mobile devices.

Other new People Cloud features include social grading capability that enables users to track who is connected within the organization, how employees work with each other and if any silos have developed. In addition, Saba has mobile applications available for both Android and iOS devices and Big Data analytics allow users to aggregate data from multiple systems including talent management systems, HRIS systems and financial systems to produce configurable views of the enterprise. And the Saba Integration Studio allows bulk data imports and exports.

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Saba Transitions with Big Move

Saba is making significant changes to People Cloud as it undergoes a major internal transition. As reported by Aragon Research, Saba Founder and CEO Bobby Yazdani officially stepped down on Friday, March 1. He also briefly left the company in the early 2000s and returned. Aragon analyst Jim Lundy, a former Saba employee, correctly predicted Saba would “begin to move faster” as it made the transition to new interim CEO (and existing COO) Shawn Farschchi.

Lundy based his apt prediction on Saba having “some of the largest customers in the world that use its products,” as well as its core product suite being J2EE-based and thus highly scalable, and the innovative nature of both People Cloud and the Saba Virtual Classroom product. Saba has been pretty productive in the first four days of the post-Yazdani era. As the company holds its Saba People Summit 13 conference in San Francisco this week, the industry should watch closely for more large moves during the transition.

Fear Stalls Social Enterprise

Saba is part of a growing trend of "social enterprise” technology that delivers many of the features and benefits of social networking to enterprise users. However, as discussed during the public CMSWire Google+ Hangout session in December, the best use cases for social haven't been able to translate across entire companies, and it's almost less about social than it is about collaboration.

In other words, just because the technology is built, doesn't mean people will use it. That's largely driven by fear, said CMSWire columnist Deb Lavoy. In large command and control type organizations, people tend to only want to talk about good things, and the ideas that have the most support. Something like social is hard to do. It's messy. It's one of those things that if it doesn't work, it must be somebody's fault, and that's exactly the wrong approach, Lavoy said.

That kind of fear-based outlook has to be taken off the table, she said, and when that happens, more productive work can be done. When executives and CEOs start taking the lead on social, or really any project, things start to click. It can often come down to that kind of executive style, but it's often simply about removing the doubt and fear many have of taking on the sometimes nebulous challenge of social business.