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6/21/2012
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Cisco Rebrands Social Tool; Enterprise 2.0 News Roundup

Cisco Quad goes cloud, joins WebEx family; Moxie adds file Sync; Socialtext wins U.S. Housing and Urban Development contract.

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Cisco made a strong impression at Enterprise 2.0 this week with WebEx Social, its rebranded enterprise social networking product.

Formerly known as Quad, Cisco's social collaboration platform will join the WebEx product family at the same time that it is coming to the cloud. The software-as-a-service version will be available in North America starting in July.

Cisco will continue to support an on-premises version of the product, but the company wanted to give WebEx social a boost by associating it with the popular cloud service, according to Raj Gossain, vice president of product management for the collaboration group. "WebEx has historically been about Web conferencing, but our aspiration is to make it much more about integrated collaboration."

[ See our special report: Enterprise 2.0 Boston 2012. ]

Like Quad, WebEx Social will emphasize the connection between social collaboration and unified communications, integrating instant messaging, telephony, and video with social networking. The latest update includes the same video technology used in the Cisco Jabber instant messaging and synchronous collaboration client, bringing high-definition video to the social experience.

Alan Lepofsky, an analyst with Constellation Research, said the rebranding made sense because "WebEx is a recognized name that people associate with working together in the cloud." Further, he was pleasantly surprised by the effort Cisco has invested in giving the new release an attractive and usable user interface. "I'm extremely surprised how amazing it is," he said, pointing to features missing in other products, such as the ability to retrace your digital steps by filtering on your own past social media activities and other people's response to them.

Gartner research director Larry Cannell, who advises IT architects on the implications of social collaboration, agreed that offering a cloud option will appeal to a much broader audience. "Previously, they could scale the platform up, but couldn't really scale it down," he said.

Cisco's news was one of several industry announcements at Enterprise 2.0, a UBM TechWeb event.

Enterprise 2.0 Becomes E2

The conference had some news of its own, announcing a name change to E2 with a distinction in focus between the Boston and Santa Clara editions of the event. E2 Innovate, which takes places November 12 to 15 in Santa Clara, Calif., will broaden its focus to the changes in enterprise architecture, including trends like social and mobile computing. For more on that vision, see Reimagining the 21st Century Enterprise. E2 will be back in Boston next year as E2 Social, maintaining the traditional focus on social and collaboration technologies.

Moxie Adds Desktop Sync

In other news, Moxie Software added desktop sync to its Spaces by Moxie enterprise social network. Released initially as a Windows-only feature, this allows collaborators to add or update files in a social workspace by saving them to a synchronized directory on their desktop computers.

In addition to folder sync, Moxie is adding desktop sync. This allows users to create discussion topics directly from Outlook, or start a social discussion based on an existing email. When sending or reading emails, users can also view the recent Collaboration Spaces activities of the email recipients.

Desktop Sync will be available by August 15, according to Moxie.

Socialtext Wins HUD Contract

Socialtext announced a successful implementation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Socialtext will provide more than 8,000 HUD employees with social collaboration, based on Socialtext's software-as-a-service platform.

In 2011, HUD began looking for a way to improve internal communications and collaboration and work practices while enhancing employee satisfaction, and the agency picked Socialtext after "an extensive evaluation process." Built by Socialtext, HUDConnect is the agency’s secure social intranet, connecting HUD employees across the agency's nationwide field offices.

Sanebox Comes To Business Inboxes

Email productivity tool Sanebox showcased the new business version of its product for combatting email overload at Enterprise 2.0. Sanebox originally came to market as a personal productivity tool to help people identify the most important email they receive, using an approach similar to that of Gmail's Priority Inbox. With Sanebox for Business, the company is adding additional email controls, plus a first demonstration of how integration with enterprise applications can pay off.

Through integration with Salesforce.com, Sanebox says it can ensure that emails associated with a salesperson's top prospects will always show up at the top of their inboxes rather than being buried in trivia and spam. Instead of filtering out bad email, like an anti-spam tool, Sanebox takes the opposite approach, filtering for the most interesting and important email and classifying it into categories (for example, hot sales leads versus important corporate memos).

Sanebox says it supports common email systems including Google Apps, Exchange, Outlook, and Lotus Notes. Base pricing is $5 per user per month, and qualified enterprises can get a 15% discount, with an additional 10% discount available to nonprofits.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

New apps promise to inject social features across entire workflows, raising new problems for IT. In the new, all-digital Social Networking issue of InformationWeek, find out how companies are making social networking part of the way their employees work. Also in this issue: How to better manage your video data. (Free with registration.)

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