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Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Socialcast 'Reach' Extends Collaboration Into Enterprise Workflow

While most social networking software for the enterprise requires corporate users to log into yet another system, Socialcast's new Reach puts social in the context of applications.

Adding Social To Corporate Projects
Adding Social To Corporate Projects
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Enter Socialcast Reach. Specifically, Reach extends its concept of Streams, Discussions and Recommendations into applications. With this, comments and files can follow application use. Streams with discussions and files get tied to a resource, like a CRM account, or a project, like a marketing exercise. Recommendations and discussions can be added to almost anything, like HR material on best hiring practices on your corporate intranet; or useful management documents. All updates are shared in Socialcast and through applications in real time; no page refresh needed. And it looks and feels an awful lot like Facebook.

Reach works with any application that supports HTML/JavaScript, or any extensible platform (like Adobe Air or Microsoft Silverlight). For web apps, it's a simple copy-and-paste of 15 lines of HTML. It also supports Sharepoint 2010. Socialcast is creating a library of plug-in code for many applications. To start, that includes SugarCRM, Salesforce, Atlassian Confluence (wiki) and Atlassian JIRA (project tracking). During the fourth quarter of 2010, there will also be sidebar plug-ins for Microsoft Office and Google's application suite, the company said, as well as ERP systems like SAP. And there's an SDK for integrating with applications not delivered via the browser, or supported directly by Socialcast. This integration requires the use of Socialcast's REST-based API.

Socialcast can run as a hosted application service, in your own chosen cloud environment, or on premise. The program also runs on mobile platforms, specifically Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and, of course, with mobile web apps. Corporate user information can come from any LDAP back end, and Socialcast imports from, and syncs with Microsoft Active Directory; but users can update the profile information once it's in SocialCast. It also supports single sign-on technologies like SAML (1.1 and 2.0) and OpenID. The company has been a part of an ongoing effort to create cross-product "activity stream" standards, which, thanks to market fragmentation, is becoming more vital by the day. It's still very early days for standards here, however.

The company says that Socialcast pricing ranges from $3 - $5 per user per month as a hosted service. Reach adds about one-third to that price (so if a company is paying $3 per user per month, they'll pay $4 with Reach added on). You can also find Socialcast at UBM TechWeb's E2 conference November 8 - 11 in Santa Clara, CA.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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