VMware talks up the benefits of enterprise social tools


VMware has become the latest vendor to talk up the benefits of enterprise social networking tools, while thanking its competitors for helping generate interest in the technology.

The virtualisation giant has been an active participant in the enterprise social market since its acquisition of networking platform provider Socialcast in May 2011.

The platform is used by businesses to create private social networks that can be used to share sensitive corporate information and collaborate on projects.

Speaking to IT Pro, Chuck Dietrich, vice president and general manager of social applications at VMware, said interest in enterprise social networks is growing, thanks in no small part to his firm's competitors.

"We love what Google and Yammer are doing because they've spent a lot of money on advertising, which has educated the market about the benefits of enterprise social," he said.

Earlier this week, the company announced the availability of a new Integration Engine that will let IT systems and applications feed information into the Socialcast platform for the first time.

We love what Google and Yammer are doing because they've educated the market.

Dietrich said the new functionality could help retail users keep on top of stock changes or IT managers keep a closer eye on their infrastructure.

For example, Socialcast customer and book publisher Random House uses the system to communicate when inventory levels of certain titles are low, which usually prompts stores to conserve supplies.

"There are a lot of soft ROI benefits [associated with Socialcast] around people finding and connecting with people quicker to find out information and make informed decisions," said Dietrich.

Some users have also used Socialcast to help rollout Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes, added Dietrich, by using the site to troubleshoot deployment issues.

"[For that kind of scheme] IT staff would typically have to ramp up just to support the inbound questions, [but one of our customers] was able to do that with their existing IT staff by getting people to answer each other's questions on Socialcast," he explained.

Consumer electronics manufacturer Philips has been using Socialcast for some time, the firm's global internal communications officer, Denis Agusi, told IT Pro.

He claimed the platform has had a positive impact on staff retention, morale, engagement and productivity at the firm.

"I've been at Philips for two years now and it would be interesting to know what would have happened if there was not a Socialcast community and how different the company might be," said Agusi.

"I've learned so much via this enterprise social network, it's incredible. You see what people post, you adopt that knowledge and you use it on the job."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.