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What is Social Software?

Communication and Collaboration for Business, Social Networking, and Community


Social software is the integration of communication and collaboration technologies, both traditional and contemporary to facilitate productivity. Let's quickly review why social software is needed and how it is implemented, then look at several companies offering social software.

Social software design is conceived the way organizations desire a flexible collaborative environment in business, social networking, and community--that is accomplished by coupling these specific technologies.

Traditional social software technologies will include email, wikis, blogs, and knowledge sharing functions such as collaborative editing and document management. Contemporary social tools will integrate real-time features, including IM and web conferencing with voice and video. Microblogging, most often referred to as "status updates" has become an anchor of social software.

The infrastructure of social software may span one or several networks and may be hosted by the software manufacturer as a cloud-service or downloaded to a server for the company to manage on its own internal systems. Use cases, the way people use the system, like knowledge base creation or idea generation, may predicate access, devices, and computing platforms. However, the essence of social software is the design to scale an entire organization so people can communicate and collaborate under one roof.

Here are several examples of well recognized social software, and there are others, but each have different and distinguishing features.

1. Atlassian Confluence

Atlassian Confluence

Atlassian is recognized for its suite of products to accommodate software development. The company developed Atlassian Confluence, the wiki-style collaboration software with social features that can work in any environment. Popular for creating team spaces, Confluence organizes functions around a global space for the whole organization and a personal space for individuals. Atlassian offers HipChat, a recent acquisition to its product suite for group chat.

2. Acquia-Drupal

© Acquia-Drupal

Acquia-Drupal is the open-source model for social software. Acquia provides support and services for the Drupal and Drupal Commons platform that are freely available under an open-source General Public License. Drupal is a content management system (CMS) with substantial web publishing and social collaboration capabilities for building an online community. Drupal is known for its large and active member developer community, including the development of many third-party modules.

3. IBM Connections

Courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation.

IBM Connections is a social software for business. IBM offers a suite of products that complement Connections, including unified communications and document management. At the forefront of social software, IBM is a developer and supporter for business collaboration, and open access to information to create business value in expansive professional networks. More traditional software features combined with newer social tools, Connections and integration of IBM's other complement of products provide a comprehensive solution for large enterprise organizations.

4. Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is a self-contained social business software platform unlike other social software that is added to a suite of products. Jive has an advanced technology called the recommendation engine that brings information to the user based on their network connections, interests, and activities. Jive helps amplify group level conversations through microblogging, wikis, and discussion forums - and what's best for users - sharing information and learning.

5. Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365
Used with permission from Microsoft.

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based productivity software for managing team spaces, intranets, and websites whether it's a small business or large enterprise system. Office 365 core technology includes notable SharePoint Online for document management and knowledge sharing, Lync Online, for video meetings, teleconferencing and chat, and Exchange Online for email messaging. Users familiar with Microsoft products can transfer knowledge and usability from desktop to the Office 365 online platforms. Yammer,the private social network tool, will be included in the Office 365 offering depending on Yammer's subscriber plans and pricing.

6. MindTouch

© MindTouch, Inc.

Mindtouch is a cloud-based enterprise content management system (ECM) that is best used for wikis and help systems. Autodesk provides an example how Mindtouch is used for its learning and social collaboration platform among many thousands of users. Mindtouch includes technologies for knowledge management while attending to social networking capabilities of large online communities.

7. Salesforce.com Chatter

Chatter.com is a trademark of Salesforce.com inc.

Salesforce.com includes the popular Chatter platform for employees to engage in real-time social collaboration. Salesforce.com is one of the first social software in business using features like status updates and @mentions and provides other tools for tracking social networking like a business process. The backbone of Chatter is the integration with Salesforce.com customer relationship management (CRM) and its growing list of cloud-computing products.

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