Posted by Steve Herrod
Chief Technology Officer
In April I introduced VMware’s acquisition of SlideRocket with a blog entry entitled, “The New Way to Work – End-User Computing in the Post-PC Era”. Today I am happy to announce the next step in this journey with our acquisition of Socialcast, a powerful “Enterprise Activity Stream Engine” that unites a company’s people, information, and applications in real-time. In this blog, I discuss this social platform and how it helps evolve the way we work.
First, let’s step back and look at today’s approach to enterprise communication. For the last 30 years, personal computing has primarily focused on automating the metaphors of the pre-digitized workplace including the “inbox” and “outbox” tray, manila folders, and printed documents. We’ve largely replaced printed memos, mail carts, and filing cabinets with documents, email, and file shares. These tools have dramatically improved our productivity, but the increasing volume of information can be overwhelming and requires manual prioritization and organizational work to keep up with this data deluge.
While traditional mail- and document-centric interaction will certainly remain critical, there are new approaches to collaboration taking root that better exploit the paradigms of the web. For example, communication is increasingly iterative, with fine-grained interaction replacing letter-like back-and-forth. Furthermore, these activity streams increasingly take place across dispersed groups of informally linked collaborators rather than following the boundaries of a formal organization hierarchy. And in today’s frantic world, the information in these activity streams should only interrupt the right people at the right time… and of course be safely archived and searchable. In summary, there is an opportunity for improved collaboration across a company that can drive new levels of productivity and employee satisfaction.
VMware is dedicated to the delivery of the technologies and infrastructure needed to enable this new way of working. We see this new approach as an indication that our industry has entered the post-PC era, enabled by advances in mobile devices, SaaS, and cloud computing. This disruption was the rationale behind our acquisition of SlideRocket and Zimbra, and the catalyst for the launch of VMware Horizon App Manager.
Over the last 3 years, Socialcast has been growing rapidly and garnering the reputation as a true visionary in the enterprise collaboration space. By focusing on people and their work habits, they have developed a platform deployed by some of the world’s largest companies to facilitate communication and collaboration across the entire enterprise. The Socialcast team has achieved this success by delivering the key elements of next-generation enterprise collaboration… real-time activity streams, a social graph of the entire enterprise, and the ability to participate in contextual- and purpose-oriented groups. These are fairly standard elements in this space, but there are four traits that make Socialcast particularly special:
- Rich integration capabilities
- Safe Collaboration wherever you work
- On- and Off-premise deployment
- A platform for new collaborative applications
Rich Integration Capabilities
Rather than define enterprise social as yet another tool to use or as a feature rooted in a single application, the Socialcast approach emphasizes the integration of social capabilities across the applications, data, and services that people already use. Socialcast includes an integration capability called Reach to add social elements into existing content sources like SharePoint and wikis. This brings collaboration to the places where people, applications, and data already exist.
Safe Collaboration from Wherever You Work
It’s obvious that we’re all more mobile these days as well, and the Socialcast platform offers the freedom to participate in collaboration from rich clients, mobile devices, email, and most importantly from within a range of native Windows, on-premise or cloud based business applications. All of this while offering the enterprise the compliance and security features that are required to satisfy end-users, IT and legal groups.
On- and Off-Premise Deployment
We’re clearly in a hybrid-cloud world, with IT offering some services from within their own datacenters and some services from the public cloud. Why force a choice? With Socialcast, you have your choice of on- or off-premise deployment, as it is available either as SaaS or as a VMware virtual appliance that can be deployed behind the firewall. Cool!
A Platform for New Collaborative Applications
And last, but not least is the opportunity to build new enterprise applications upon the core Socialcast platform. It’s still in the early days, but it seems inevitable that enterprises will leverage the employee network and improved collaboration capabilities to change the way they receive feedback, track projects, or do any number of other tasks. For a look at one such application, check out the Socialcast Townhall offering… and stay tuned for other such examples.
Several big customers are enjoying the benefits of Socialcast today. Nokia has deployed Socialcast to alleviate the logjam associated with traditional email communication as well as enable new ways for executive management to communicate and interact with their global workforce. The SAS Institute has deployed Socialcast as the hub through which employees can exchange information as well as using Reach, to add social elements to their SharePoint and wiki installations. Humana has also leveraged the Reach platform to create whole new applications that increase employee engagement by incorporating social gaming elements to reward and recognize employees across their worldwide operations. And we’ve just deployed Socialcast within VMware as well, and are already seeing the signs of a more collaborative, productive, and informed organization.
Examples such as these illustrate the richness of the user experience in the post-PC era. Users can easily tap in to collective knowledge and expertise inside and outside their business, reduce unnecessary meetings and redundant communications, and do all this without being tethered to their desk. VMware is leading the way forward in this era, and the combination of our world class technologies and Socialcast’s focus on social communications and applications will accelerate this transformation of the way people work.