Social Collaboration always strikes me as more about people and organisational behaviour than technology - although once an organisation has a vision for social collaboration at all levels, technology is a real enabler.
So, now I'm going to get an in-depth briefing on Huddle - and I'm probably less interested in the technology in itself (as long as it works) than in what it actually does to help people work together effectively.
From an initial briefing I'm going to be reviewing against a checklist that will include (in no particular order):
- What is the Huddle USP? Perhaps this is its content recommendation engine - getting you all that you need and only what you need - right now. A neat trick if you can pull it off reliably!
- Audit trails. Collaboration is good but if it affects the business (and, if it doesn't, why are you bothering) then there'll be times when you need to revisit who said what and why, especially in regulated businesses (and all businesses are regulated to a greater or lesser extent).
- Mobility - support for smartphone and tablet mobility is vital to social networking cultures.
- Collaboration inside and outside the firewall - business outcomes might arise from collaboration with customers and business partners. This implies a good (workable) security model that doesn't impede collaboration.
- And then there's the conflict resolution model and versioning - if lots of people are collaborating on something (especially something that ends up as a legal document or whatever), there are likely to be subgroups at any one time with different versions of the thing, archived (previous) versions - and some rules about who has the final say on what gets published.
- Finally, for now, there are best practices and value demonstrations. For instance, Huddle claims success with the UK government G-Cloud and sees that as a 'proof of concept' for access to US government computing. It also points out that audit trails and versioning are particularly important in Government computing
I'm sure there's more, but that's a start. And it isn't just about Huddle, of course. For instance, Fuzed is an up-and-coming "enterprise social knowledge network" vendor with a strong story about managing context - perhaps this is its USP (point 1, above).
Social collaboration technology is often built around activity streams but Fuzed's "Context Stream" augments an activity stream with contextual information about events, content and activities created or shared in Fuzed or external context from tapping into existing applications, internet search or the social web.
There's a Scalability issue - perhaps that's an addition to my evolving checklist - why shouldn't activity streams rapidly become as unmanageable as email, if collaboration takes off? Fuzed would probably say that managing context is key to making collaboration in an organisation manageable and scalable. And perhaps I'd better also add ease of deployment and tool management to my checklist....
Now, I wonder what SharePoint's USP is.....