Can Social Networking Improve Internal Collaboration?

There are (at least) dozens of hosted applications for smaller businesses, however many companies struggle with getting employees to adopt their chosen collaboration tools. A new solution from Sosius combines a collaborative workspace with the features of a social networking site like blogs, chat, tagging and creating searchable profiles with the goal of encouraging participation.
Sosius currently supports several open source applications to edit documents online, sign contracts electronically, create slide shows and hold web conferences, and has a developer tool if you want to create or integrate applications of your own.
We talked with Sosius founder Andrew Cameron-Webb about social networking for business and some things to consider when choosing a collaboration solution.

Social networking is on the rise, especially with the rising use of Facebook. Should businesses consider “private” social networking solutions as from Sosius or consider an open one like Facebook? Why?
While Facebook allows users to connect, it does not allow for collaboration through document management, database and project management tools.
Business social networking needs strong business tools, for example the ability to connect with other experts or professionals with similar backgrounds. Sosius’ Expert Finder allows Sosius members to designate themselves as experts by adding expertise keywords to their profiles. All users can then leverage the platform’s extended tagging functionality to locate these skilled professionals across the Sosius network. Businesses of all sizes seeking assistance in projects can search across their own organizations as well as Sosius member organizations for subject experts and carefully select the right intelligence to help them continue to drive innovation.
Additionally, companies who need to keep control of sensitive information can use a solution like Sosius without the stress and added burden of constantly monitoring communication, postings, feedback, etc. To address privacy concerns, Sosius offers users complete control over their privacy settings, ensuring their protection from unwanted communications.

There are a LOT of collaboration solutions with a range of features including WebOffice, HyperOffice, Catalyst Web, Google Docs, Office Live and so many others. What makes Sosius different? Or what’s the value add?

Sosius stands out from its competitors by offering the following distinct features:

  • Mature enterprise-grade product for the SME market
  • With Sosius, you can invite unlimited members and create unlimited workspaces
  • Per usage pricing versus per user-based pricing
  • Ultra secure platform
  • Most complete feature set: calendaring, blogs, RSS, chat, document management, databases, tasks and more, all from one simple dashboard view
  • Template and best practices for re-use (with Sosius, users can customize templates for a project, for example. Every time they begin a new project thereafter, the components they need are already there)
  • Flexible, advanced UI
  • Powerful internet applications all in one place
  • Ability to build workflow based applications (sales reporting)
  • Extendable via OpenSosius API

When considering a private collaborative solution, how does one decide? I would think, intuitively, features vs price come to mind. However, maybe there’s a better way?
Almost all private collaboration solutions offer document management, calendaring, discussion forums, tasks and contacts. The best solutions go beyond the basics and include web databases, project management, chat/IM, presence awareness, RSS feeds, wikis, blogs and web conferencing
Pricing also plays a key role in the selection process. Most online collaboration solutions are priced based on the number of users, which can get very expensive for an SME (e.g., WebOffice, $399.95/month for 50 users). A few providers now offer usage-based plans with an unlimited number of users (e.g., Sosius, $100/month for the Company Plan).
Security is also a very important factor to take into consideration.
Other essential questions to consider:
1. Where is the data hosted?
2. What data recovery systems are in place?
3. Who owns the data?
4. Does the provider have experience delivering solutions to my type of business/industry?
Many employees already use social networking tools. Should they be leveraging their online profiles for business? What are your thoughts on this?
Yes, absolutely – if the social network context is relevant to the business. We believe that online profiles can help position professionals/businesses as thought leaders, i.e., create an online ‘sphere of influence’. These online profiles also enable users to tap into open standards like FOAF and XFM.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor,