Socialcast Frequently Asked Questions
Socialcast® is an enterprise social network platform. Although it offers familiar features found in personal social applications such as Facebook and LinkedIn, Socialcast is much more robust, and is designed for businesses who want to improve the exchange of ideas and information across teams, organizations and locations.
Socialcast enables real-time communication and collaboration at work. At a basic level, participants post messages to the community, such as status updates, progress reports or questions. Fellow participants can then reply or add comments to these posts. Posts can include links or attachments. These “conversations” combine to form an activity stream for the organization. Activity streams can be specific to groups, such as the “Project Blue” group or the “Marketing Team” group, either public or private. The result is a continuous pulse on what’s happening now in a company. Over time, activity streams become a vital archive of institutional knowledge that can be filtered or searched by relevant topic or member.
Streamlining the Flow of Information
Traditional productivity tools such as email, calendaring and scheduling applications focus on automating routine tasks. Socialcast, on the other hand, focuses on making knowledge work more efficient. Knowledge work is rarely routine, and it deals with ideas, exception handling and problem solving. Email is a highly inefficient tool for this type of human interaction—a question posted by email to a group of people quickly becomes a disjointed thread of “reply all” responses. Socialcast moves this type of information exchange into a real-time community environment, reducing time spent on emails and in meetings.
Collaboration is increasingly difficult in today’s fast-paced organizations, where employees are dispersed across multiple locations and time zones. Socialcast allows team members to exchange ideas, review document drafts or share updates in a way that does not require meetings, conference calls or emailed attachments. All community members benefit from the exchange and can easily participate. Those with expertise can provide insights that benefit a much larger community beyond participants in a real-time conversation.
This perception may come from personal experiences with Facebook or LinkedIn. However, as users experience how easy it is to filter Socialcast activity streams for the most relevant topics, or to create groups specific to a project or initiative, they quickly realize how much less time they are spending on email and meetings. When they see how fast the community responds to “how can I...?” types of questions, they see how much time they save by not having to track down content, experts or best practices. Socialcast co-exists with common business applications; messages to the community can include links to content on intranets or other systems. In this way, Socialcast can become a central hub for many different types of business-oriented messages, reducing the need to switch between systems to do great work.
Socializing Business Processes
To “socialize” a business application or process is to give it key attributes of a social application. From within a business application, users can “share” records or files with the community. Messages can even be generated by business systems—for example, a business application can automatically update Socialcast when inventory levels have reached a certain threshold, or it can post a message to the marketing and sales group when an account opportunity has been reclassified. Users can “follow” a system-generated activity of interest, such as a Salesforce.com update on a specific account. Users can then comment on or “like” this system-generated post, to give it more context or actionable details. The result is a deeper integration between business applications and the people who rely on them to perform their jobs.
Increasing Employee Engagement and Adoption
In general, Socialcast helps people feel more connected to the flow of work, with the ability to join groups, follow experts, and stay informed through various activity streams. One particular way Socialcast improves employee engagement is through the Socialcast Thanks feature. Team members and managers can send a Thanks with a custom congratulatory message to publicly recognize outstanding performance by individuals or groups.
The basics of Socialcast are easy to master and require very little training. Socialcast features can also be embedded in commonly used applications, enabling a seamless workflow for social collaboration. These key features are appealing to users and make it easy to join and participate. Most significantly, Socialcast provides Social Business Intelligence™ for real-time feedback and actionable insights into the social community. Network analysis, pattern detection and trending data help Administrators understand the way information flows and how people behave on the network by role. This gives companies the power of data for developing incentives, rewards and other programs to boost adoption and drive measurable ROI.
Protecting Privacy and Sensitive Company Data
Socialcast provides a comprehensive defense-in-depth security strategy. Many clients in highly regulated industries, such as government or healthcare, trust Socialcast. Socialcast is offered as both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and behind-the-firewall deployment models. Both models support Active Directory and LDAP integration for timely activation and deactivation of user accounts. Both SaaS and behind-the-firewall deployments support single sign-on (SSO) using the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) authentication method, enabling centralized control of user access and passwords. Socialcast also supports the WS-Federation and WS-Trust 1.3 protocols. In SaaS deployments, all traffic moves on HTTP over SSL. Socialcast supports the new OAuth 2.0 security protocol to protect passwords and identities of Socialcast users on mobile devices.
Socialcast allows the formation of groups that include members outside the company. These external-facing groups are private by default. Members outside the company are referred to as “external contributors,” and their access to the community is limited to groups to which they are invited. Private groups are ideal for sharing sensitive or confidential information among a restricted group of people. A group administrator for a private group must invite members directly. Only members of a private group can see that group in the Groups Directory. No private group messages or content is included in the company stream or in the profile streams of its members.
Customers and Use Cases
Many industry observers agree that ESN is the fastest growing segment of the content-collaboration market, with predictions that the market will reach $2 billion to $6.5 billion between 20141 and 2016.2 Companies who see the potential in ESN for unlocking the value in human capital, for improving the flow of ideas and innovation, and for fostering deeper productivity and collaboration are investing in ESN today.
Socialcast is currently being used by more than 17,000 companies around the world to improve communication, streamline teamwork and engage ideas. More than half of Socialcast customers are found in healthcare, telecommunications, consumer products, consulting/professional services and transportation. Socialcast is most frequently deployed in large organizations that are globally dispersed and have critical security, compliance, audit and management concerns. Many Socialcast premium customers have communities of 20,000 users or more.
The community administrator (admin) establishes the experience members will have within their Socialcast community, and is responsible for the ongoing management and tracking of community activity. The admin should be someone who is actively engaged in the community and who typically serves as the “go-to” person for “how-to” questions. They monitor community use, and track community activity, among other functions. In larger companies this person is typically in IT, however the administrator can be a project manager, an internal communications manager, or anyone with a combination of passion, communication skills, and some technical know-how.
Socialcast is used in many different functional areas. The most common adopters of social communities are found in:
- Sales – Sales teams use Socialcast to manage accounts more effectively, engage others in closing deals faster, stay on top of the competition and collaborate more closely with marketing.
- Information Technology – For IT staff and help desks, Socialcast enables faster answers to technical questions. Through tools that make it easier to socialize existing business systems and applications, Socialcast helps IT get more out of infrastructure investments and deliver greater value to the organization.
- Human Resources – Socialcast enables HR teams to get new employees up to speed faster, increase employee engagement, improve learning and development, and create a dynamic knowledge base for all employees.
- Executive and Corporate Communications – Socialcast can improve organizational effectiveness by opening lines of communication and making it easier for employees to share ideas and find answers—all of which results in higher productivity, agility and innovation.
Socialcast enables mobile users to post messages from the road, search the entire network for “anywhere access” to timely information, receive notifications, track unread messages, send emails directly from profiles and upload attachments. The following mobile devices are currently supported:
- Apple iPhone mobile devices (iOS 4.0 or later)
- BlackBerry devices (version 4.2 or later)
- Android mobile devices (version 2.1 or later)
Yes, Socialcast uses OAuth 2. The Android app uses HTTPS and doesn’t store the user’s password.
Socialcast provides these primary advantages over competing products:
- Embeddable – Socialcast is the recognized leader for embedding social functionality into common business systems. Valuable information contained within business systems such as SharePoint, Salesforce.com, JIRA, or other CRM, PLM or ERP applications can be shared within a social community rather than kept in functional or departmental silos, resulting in more transparent, collaborative knowledge exchange across the organization.
- Engaging – Socialcast provides users with a familiar, intuitive interface. Built-in help supports self-paced learning. Teams can easily decide how to form groups, track projects, solve problems or develop ideas using Socialcast. Socialcast also provides tools and resources to help administrators increase adoption. With relatively little effort, Socialcast communities are able to quickly achieve a “critical mass” of participation that can dramatically improve productivity and work results.
Socialcast offers three deployment models to address a range of customer requirements.
- Behind the firewall – Offered as a VMware virtual appliance that is a preinstalled, preconfigured solution stack. Deployment, installation and setup can be accomplished within a matter of hours. This is a highly secure and scalable solution that can support tens of thousands of users.
- Private cloud – A single-tenant SaaS deployment hosted on dedicated hardware in a Socialcast Tier 1, SAS70 Type II– compliant datacenter for enhanced security and compliance. Hardware, software and maintenance are provided by Socialcast.
- Multitenant cloud – A standard SaaS deployment hosted in a Socialcast Tier 1, SAS70 Type II–compliant datacenter. Hardware, software and maintenance are provided by Socialcast. This approach offers 128-bit SSL data encryption, network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) and transaction audit trails.
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Visit the Socialcast developer web site for documentation on setting up and administering your Socialcast community, developing applications using Socialcast APIs, and embedding Socialcast into existing business applications.