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Social Collaboration in a Cloud Environment

Many social collaboration products are offered exclusively in the cloud (meaning you don't have to install any software on-premises). The two most popular cloud-based collaboration tools are Yammer and Chatter.

  • Chatter: Chatter can be used independently as a stream-centric social collaboration platform, but it's best known and most used as a companion to the Salesforce.com cloud software for sales, marketing, and customer support. Major enterprises often employ Chatter with their sales teams even if they use other social collaboration products for other functions. A basic version of Chatter is included for free with Salesforce.com CRM.

  • Yammer: Microsoft's Yammer is an increasingly credible cloud-based collaboration platform for businesses large and small. It has a Facebook-like central newsfeed and it supports collaboration groups. The free version of Yammer includes all its major features, with the exception of enterprise account administration tools.

Some other social collaboration platforms and tools that might benefit your business include the following:

  • Box: Box primarily focuses on cloud-based file sharing for business but does provide social commenting as well as integration with Jive.

    Consider Box if file sharing with mobile workers or external partners is your main concern. Box isn't really a complete social platform, but it is a serious file and document collaboration player with enterprise appeal.

  • Google Apps and Google+: Google has all the elements for social collaboration, both inside and outside an organization, but the barrier between the two is more permeable than with other solutions. Google+ Circles make it possible to share only with a specific group of people, and Google Apps account holders can limit the sharing of a post to only members of their e-mail domain.

    Consider Google if your organization is going all-in with Google services.

  • Huddle: Huddle is a software as a service (SaaS) product that falls somewhere between Box and Yammer, emphasizing internal and external file collaboration but more complete as a social collaboration platform than Box.

    If file collaboration with employees and external partners is important to your strategy, along with social discussion, consider Huddle.

  • Igloo: Igloo Software markets its product as "a modern intranet," including activity streams, commenting, and private blogs, as well as file sharing.

    Consider Igloo if you want a simple, streamlined cloud collaboration solution.

  • Moxie Collaboration Spaces: Collaboration Spaces is part of the Spaces by Moxie Suite focused on web customer service (chat, knowledgebase, and self-service), where internal collaboration is positioned as a tool for delivering better and faster answers to customers.

    If your most important collaboration scenarios revolve around customer service and support, this may be a good application for you.

  • Podio: Citrix bought Podio in 2012, adding the innovative cloud startup to the family of products that includes GoToMeeting. Podio combines social software concepts with an emphasis on task management and user-designed apps for structured collaboration.

    This solution can be a good choice if you value Podio's approach to social task management and structured web collaboration to replace inappropriate uses of spreadsheets.

  • SAP JAM: This cloud-only social collaboration platform is based on a social tool from SuccessFactors (a cloud-based human resources and talent management service that was acquired by SAP) as well as elements of an SAP social workflow product called StreamWork. SAP is integrating social feeds with its business applications in addition to providing a social workspace.

    This option is a good choice if you have a commitment to SAP or SuccessFactors that makes JAM the most natural choice.

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