Socialtext, NetDocuments Team Up On Social Collaboration

The nonprofit ClimateWorks Foundation integrates the social and content management tools to boost communication across its global network.

Tom Dunlap, Contributor

February 9, 2012

4 Min Read

In another example of how enterprise social collaboration is bringing organizations together, Socialtext, a leading provider of enterprise social software, has launched a strategic partnership with NetDocuments, one of the best known Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) content management service providers.

One of the first entities to take advantage of the partnership is the ClimateWorks Foundation. The nonprofit supports public policies that prevent dangerous climate change and promote global prosperity.

ClimateWorks is using the integrated Socialtext application to enable its global network of non-profits to collaborate on strategy, learn from others, share best practices, and reach goals faster. This is the first "social knowledge exchange" implemented in the non-profit sector, Sarah Nichols, director of knowledge management (KM) for ClimateWorks, said in an interview.

Socialtext started out as a vendor of wiki software for the enterprise, and previously offered a rich text editor for wiki editing. Socialtext is sold as software as a service, with an option for on-premises installation as an appliance or VMware virtual appliance that gets automatic updates from Socialtext's cloud service. ClimateWorks uses the hosted version.

Nichols, who has been ClimateWorks' director of KM for a year and a half, explained her KM strategy and how she chose Socialtext.

"Knowledge management to me ... is find it, organize it, and make it available," Nichols said. "That is critical, but it's somewhat passive, and it doesn't foster user engagement, and it doesn't inspire leap thinking. And that's what I'm really interested in. I think of the next generation of knowledge management as knowledge exchange.

"I wanted to provide a place for the ClimateWorks network to create, share, and have all our network knowledge assets via a single front end," she added.

Nichols said she developed a knowledge exchange strategy and road map and was looking for a single platform that would offer "the elements of enterprise social software and really tight content management. And I could not find that single platform."

She said she needed a turnkey system and a cloud-based system, because the nonprofit has a limited ability to hire developers. After researching her business requirement, she realized she needed two turnkey systems that would integrate with each other.

"What is missing in social software on the content management side is version control, a structured taxonomy, and document-level permission," she said. "What I set about doing is looking for a content management platform that had all the functionality I needed and a social software platform that had all the functionality I needed, and I went through my entire checklist and I found NetDocuments and Socialtext. And when I talked to people at both of those companies, I found that they shared a vision and a commitment to customer service."

"They are leapers. They wanted to leap with me into this new territory," Nichols said.

The partnership is paying dividends. Within three months of deploying Socialtext, ClimateWorks’ adopters saw a 37% reduction in departmental email traffic. Now, with more than 500 users, ClimateWorks says it will continue rolling out the solution to its global network.

By hooking up with NetDocuments, Socialtext enables a powerful way for partners to create and manage documents and to deliver information. Users don't have to know exactly what they want and where it is before they can find it. The partnership also allows users to:

-- Access documents hosted through a secure cloud-based storage system.

-- Download, borrow, edit, and upload documents through the Socialtext interface.

-- Use enhanced document search capability through NetDocuments' "cabinet" categorization system.

"I've always believed that companies can benefit from smart customers, and Sarah Nichols’ innovative insight led to a great partnership between Socialtext and NetDocuments," Eugene Lee, CEO of Socialtext, said in a statement. "Our vision is to make all systems of record easily accessible for social collaboration and provide faster execution of business initiatives."

Socialtext also has relationships with companies such as and Microsoft SharePoint.

Social media are generating tons of data, but that data only becomes truly valuable when examined in context. Attend the virtual Enterprise 2.0 event Social Analytics: The Bridge To Business Value, and learn how social analytics will provide the bridge to unlocking business value. It happens Feb. 16.

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