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"We don't sit on the SharePoint server, but we integrate with it at many levels--and also with Lync and Office365," said Jason Noble, general manager of Neudesic's product group. Pulse enhances the MySite feature in SharePoint "to bring it up to par with the other social environments that are out there," but Pulse also offers an independent social user interface that can include feeds from SharePoint and other applications, such as Microsoft's Dynamics CRM. Neudesic's goal is to provide ways of pulling in feeds from other applications, as well as embedding feeds from the social environment in other applications.
"Our belief system is that social needs to go where the people are," Noble said. In addition, an Oracle or SAP system can also post an update to the company activity stream "as if it were a person," he said.
SharePoint in particular is playing a more prominent role in Neudesic's latest implementations of Pulse, Noble said. Last year, most customers for Pulse were trying to implement an independent social network, whereas this year more than 80% of new customer projects include an element of SharePoint integration. "These are organizations that want to maximize the ROI they get out of SharePoint. They want to make SharePoint a much deeper experience in the enterprise."
Neudesic aims to make its social experience valuable either way. "If the customer wants to surface it in SharePoint, that's great, but we also want the flexibility to live outside of it and consume that activity stream wherever it makes sense," Noble said. Even those organizations that are using SharePoint in a social context often don't make the MySites feature available to all their employees, so it helps to be able to offer the remainder an independent social experience, he said.
Neudesic Pulse 3.0 activity stream and chat.
David Mario Smith, an analyst with the advisory firm Gartner Inc., said he thinks it's significant that Neudesic is also bringing real-time communications into the mix through its integration with Microsoft Lync. That means users whose companies use both products can choose whether to reply to a social post in the context of a discussion thread, or by initiating a Lync chat, call, or video conference. One of the questions enterprise social networking players will increasingly have to answer is "how do you bring realtime to social in the context of business, and the business process?" Smith said.
To date, Cisco Quad has been the enterprise social networking player that has put the most emphasis on the intersection between social collaboration and unified communications, but Smith sees it as a trend in new products he is being briefed on.
Features in this release include:
-- Direct messaging. One-to-one or group conversations, including integration with email and Lync, with support for file attachments.
-- Video. Downloading or streaming video straight from the newsfeed, also available in a mobile app.
-- CRM integration. Single sign on, plus the ability to search and communicate in the Dynamics CRM without leaving Pulse. Alerts for new opportunities, leads, and deal results.
-- Unified activity stream. Keep conversation streams connected across CRM, SharePoint, Office 365, and line-of-business applications.
-- UI updates. Follow any subject or "search this feed."
-- Security enhancements. More control over system feeds, plus improved support for Active Directory authentication.
-- SharePoint improvements. Sync documents on Pulse with SharePoint document library and search SharePoint from within Pulse.
-- Autosubscribe. Administrators can subscribe users to groups, systems and tags that are important to the company.
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