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Tech Target - Exploring Niche Corporate Social Networking Vendors

By October 25, 2012
OfflinePhoto of Christine Gondos

After writing an article around the vendors featured in the Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace, Tech Target writer, Gina Narcisi, learned that specialty vendors are quickly emerging. As a follow up to this story, she sat down with TransforMED's Marketing/Communications Manager, Nathan Bieck, to learn his experiences with Igloo Software and how it has helped TransforMED employees collaborate.

Collaboration vendors like IBM and Microsoft are rolling social media products into their unified communications products, but single-vendor sourcing for corporate social networking doesn't work for every enterprise.

Specialty vendors are emerging in the social space, according to Nikos Drakos, research director of collaboration and social software for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., who recently published the Enterprise Social Software Magic Quadrant report. These smaller vendors are building specialized social applications like content creation or social analytics, instead of full suites of social tools.

Some enterprises can work with these specialty social networking vendors to deploy the applications they need, rather than clutter end users' desktops with unused tools.

Corporate social networking: Best of breed targets specific verticals

Forty percent of large enterprises will have a corporate Facebook page by 2015, according to Gartner research by Drakos. As enterprises execute a corporate social networking strategy, many are buying social product suites from large vendors, said Ken Landoline, principal analyst of unified communications and contact center for Washington, D.C.-based Current Analysis Inc.

Emerging specialty vendors, however, are building corporate social networking tools that serve vertical industries or provide specific social media functions, Landoline said. "Social media and networking tools are uniquely used across different markets, and I think we will see an uprising of vertical-oriented solutions that help certain industries -- like finance, retail or education."

TransforMED, a Leawood, Kan.-based health care consulting firm, uses Igloo Software for a corporate intranet with embedded social capabilities for its employees and consultants. The software also includes a separate social networking application for the primary care physicians who work with the company, said Nathan Bieck, marketing and communications manager for TransforMED.

TransforMED was using GroupSwim for social collaboration until Salesforce.com acquired the vendor. The firm switched to Igloo four years ago. Igloo's software allows companies to create private areas -- or niche group spaces -- for communication among particular workgroups. TransforMED adopted these niche groups spaces for intranet conversations, as well as for the social network it offers physicians.

"[TransforMED] wanted to create a Facebook for doctors, and the group spaces within the software allow primary care physicians to have private conversations with each other without any involvement from outside individuals -- like pharmaceutical representatives or billing companies they have to speak with every day," Bieck said.

While physicians and other medical professionals control the content and conversations on the corporate social network, TransforMED consultants use Igloo software's social analytics function to track activity, he noted.

Having the ability to report to clients what their physicians are discussing and are interested in has offered a competitive advantage for TranforMED. "It's really helpful for our project managers and our hospital system clients to be able to get a snapshot of trending comments, who are the most active physicians on the network, and what documents and webinars are being viewed," he said.

The private social network tailored to physicians has experienced tremendous growth, Bieck said. It started with just four users, but now it has 6,500 physicians on the network, with 155 being added every month.

"Physicians located all over the country are collaborating and learning from each other more quickly, without dealing with the silos that email can create," he said.

To read the full article, click here.

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Post Date:
October 25, 2012
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Christine Gondos

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