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9/21/2012
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VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social

Socialcast Integration Engine brings collaboration capabilities into CRM, inventory management, HR, and other business applications.

Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
VMware this week announced the availability of the Socialcast Integration Engine, which allows organizations to more tightly integrate social apps and practices into existing business systems. The Socialcast Integration Engine combines Socialcast Reach Version 3, the new Community App Manager, and a rich set of developer APIs.

With the Socialcast Integration Engine, organizations can integrate social capabilities into existing business applications, including CRM, inventory management, and HR applications.

"There is a ton of value in terms of discussing ideas and finding answers," said Chuck Dietrich, VMware's VP and general manager of social applications, during an interview with The BrainYard. "It's a great way to connect many-to-many and develop a sense of community."

Dietrich said one of the key benefits of enterprise social applications is the ability to have a contextual conversation around tasks that used to be just binary--yes or no. Dietrich gave an example using the Socialcast Integration Engine to bring social capabilities into an expense management system. "A manager gets an expense report for approval," Dietrich said of the traditional model. There are two choices: You either say cancel or submit. The interesting thing with enterprise social is that it gives you another choice--discuss."

The Socialcast Integration Engine is designed to enable non-technical staff to easily enable integrations with any business system that accepts an HTML/Javascript snippet. "It's a cut, copy, and paste skillset," said Dietrich." Target apps could include collaboration, CRM, ERP, and external social networking systems such as Facebook and Twitter. The Socialcast Integration Engine also lets companies create integrations with custom-built apps.

[ Social business isn't as effective when some employees refuse to participate. Learn 3 Ways To Turn Enterprise 2.0 Laggards Into Fans. ]

The Socialcast Integration Engine includes:

-- Reach Version 3, a setup wizard that walks users through the process of setting up extensions to enable integrations with business systems;

-- Community App Manager, which lets developers build apps on the Socialcast platform and IT managers manage and secure these apps; and

-- Socialcast REST API, which allows companies to create even deep social integrations with business systems, including custom-developed business systems.

Dietrich called enterprise app integration the next step in enterprise social networking--one that provides more quantifiable return on investment. He also said the integration of social with business processes may be just the thing to assuage social concerns and quiet naysayers.

"I think introducing business processes into social will allow a naysayer--someone who says, 'We don't need social; it's just people talking'--to see that it's about you being able to get your job done quicker," he said.

The Socialcast Integration Engine is available immediately and accessible via Socialcast's Free communities for up to 50 users.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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