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Unison Releases 'Room'-Based Enterprise Social Network

There’s a new enterprise social collaboration product out. The New York City-based Unison Technologies has unveiled a new version of its service, a quick-to-launch social network based around virtual rooms. 

Intermedia and Unison were founded by Michael Choupak. The company, which also has an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, is led by CEO Manlio Carrelli and CMO Rurik Bradbury, who founded and sold corporate email hosting company Intermedia. They’ve told news media that their goal is to “fix how people communicate at work, in a way that email can’t.”

Focused Around Rooms

Unison's service is aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses, runs on Windows and Mac computers, Android devices and the iPhone, and is also available as a Web app.

One of its key selling points is that it can be up and running in five minutes, with conversations focused in “rooms” instead of being sifted through streams of updates – a combination of a physical space metaphor with a virtual social network.

A user might create a room for a particular project or team, for instance, for posting documents, updates or comments.  

By entering a room, a user can see who’s there at the time and view the communications between individuals or among the group. Questions and documents can be posted inside the room, issues can be discussed in groups, room occupants can IM or use voice/video chat, and rooms can be open to anyone or closed to room members only. Conversations in each room update themselves, without page refreshes.

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Users can easily create a room for a project or team.

External people, such as clients or suppliers, can come into a room, but they will only see content for which they’ve been given access. When you @mention someone, they get an alert about the referring comment. To find rooms where you were mentioned, click News in the side menu.

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Room access controls allow users to determine how much content is shared within the group and with external people.

'Rooms' Reduce Clutter

Compared to other enterprise collaboration platforms, Unison said that it is the “only enterprise social network that is simple to set up and simple to use.” Its distinguishing characteristic, the rooms, is intended to create a communications workspace for each project or team, instead of the streams and groups that other business-focused social networking services offer.

By segregating teams and projects into analogues of the physical world’s use of meeting rooms, and by pushing a message directly to a non-room user, the idea is to avoid cluttering a user’s intake of information. 

The enterprise social collaboration space is booming with revived versions of established tools, such as Chatter, Salesforce's continuing social reinvention of its business platform, and a crop of new and newly-acquired companies, including Campfire, Convo, Socialcast (now owned by VMware) and Yammer (owned by Microsoft).

The Unison service uses a “freemium” business model, in that a simple social network is free, while a premium version, which adds administrator controls for adding and removing users or administering room ownership, will be available in fourth quarter at an as-yet-unannounced price.

 
 
 
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