Telligent Takes SharePoint Social, Focuses On ROITelligent Takes SharePoint Social, Focuses On ROI
The rush to provide social computing tools to the corporate world continued this week as Dallas-based <a href="http://www.telligent.com">Telligent</a> released Community Server 2008. Unlike other pure-play community software and social networkers, Telligent is banking on Microsoft to help it befriend corporate customers that have big plans for SharePoint. But SharePoint isn't the only draw in this fight. ROI is the other weapon it's using to spar with others in the competitive social computing s
April 16, 2008
The rush to provide social computing tools to the corporate world continued this week as Dallas-based Telligent released Community Server 2008. Unlike other pure-play community software and social networkers, Telligent is banking on Microsoft to help it befriend corporate customers that have big plans for SharePoint. But SharePoint isn't the only draw in this fight. ROI is the other weapon it's using to spar with others in the competitive social computing space.I caught up with Telligent's head techie this week, CEO Rob Howard, to discuss how it's helping companies like Electronic Arts, MySpace, and General Mills roll out social media capabilities.
Howard pulled no punches when I asked him what makes his company so different in this enterprise 2.0 gold rush. "Right now we're in a big land grab with a bunch of companies building the technology. It's more of a reactive climate where our competitors are checking off the boxes for things like blogs, forums, and wikis," said Howard. The next part of the conversation, according to him, is helping clients understand why they need all the Web 2.0 accoutrements to build online communities. Howard says that, despite a crowded field with more than 100 vendors offering social computing services, not one has answered the ROI question. Telligent's business intelligence capabilities, provided by Harvest Reporting Server 1.0, is what Howard describes as the real differentiator when its platform goes head-to-head with others. The Harvest analytics work was the culmination of almost a year's worth of development, and is something that's already prompted Microsoft and others to invest more heavily in Telligent's infrastructure. "There's definitely instances where we've been chosen just because of the analytical investment we've made," added Howard. Telligent spoke of recent work at gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) and another enterprise customer, describing how each was able to derive significant ROI from their Community Server implementations. Howard told InformationWeek that EA was able to significantly increase the number of transactions associated with the release of its "Skate" game. Telligent's platform helped it deploy the online elements needed to create discussions and track all the conversations in real time. The other interesting ROI tidbit Howard described was the social computing work it is doing with another Fortune 500 customer. According to Howard, for every dollar its customer has invested in its online efforts, it gets back four. When I asked for details, they weren't as concrete as I would have liked, so I'll be anxious to hear more. And what about the SharePoint integration we've been hearing about? Howard was emphatic about what Microsoft's formidable collaboration platform means to Telligent in the enterprise and Web 2.0 wars. "The way we're going to address enterprise social computing is to partner with Microsoft," Howard said. "We're going to build on top of the platfom (SharePoint) that we believe will be the collaboration leader behind the firewall." And it's hard to argue against that. With so many deployments in place, there's certainly some untapped business for toolset vendors to inject life in all those underperforming SharePoint deployments. But will SharePoint sites that get Web 2.0 face-lifts be enough to satisfy hungry corporate users for the long term? According to Howard, the answer, of course, is a resounding yes. He says the Microsoft integrations run much deeper, however, than just SharePoint. And that's something Telligent thinks gives it another advantage. "We'll sit natively on top of Microsoft, so line-of-business and IT managers won't have to learn or invest in other applications," Howard says. "Whether it's Active Directory or Exchange Server, we fit nicely around that infrastructure. We think that's compelling."
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