Making social networks work inside companies is a difficult nut to crack. Who wants to update their status all the time to tell everyone what they are working on? BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires users to tag things manually.
So Trampoline Systems, the privately funded UK-based Enterprise social computing startup, has today launched its new Sonar Dashboard tool designed to be a “Facebook for the enterprise”. The difference is it’s intelligent enough to update your colleagues about what you’re doing without you having to do very much heavy lifting.
Essentially the employee-facing interface for Trampoline’s Sonar Server product, Dashboard allows employees to create profiles, watch a news feed of colleagues’ activity and use a contacts list. So far so Facebook. The clever bit is that Dashboard is automatically updated through integration with employees’ everyday work such as email. The Sonar Server analyses the social networks, information flows and expertise hidden within the company, alowing users to work out who in the company can help them and strengthening informal employee networks across departments and geographies.
Of course, the whole thing sounds like a “Big Brother” nightmare, but in fact, users can completely control what they share with the rest of the company. The system regularly emails the user with terms which are being published to the rest of the company and the user then switches them on and off. So users can filter out too general topics like ‘lunch’ or more private issues like their email chats with their mistress/toyboy – assuming they are dumb enough to do that over work email. (The system automatically filters out references to porn etc).
The real value comes when an employee hits a problem they know someone in the business could solve. Sonar Dashboard makes the network searchable, and gives visibility to the right people. A simple visualisation tool maps the user’s social graph so you can see who knows who.
[Trampoline is touring Silicon Valley right now as part of the WebMission trade mission involving 20 UK startups].