With social networking sites becoming more and more popular for business users, British company Trampoline Systems has released a new program it hopes will become the Facebook for the enterprise.
Trampoline's new Sonar Dashboard, which is part of its broader Sonar appliance product suite, is designed to look like popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, but is tailored specifically to be used internally by enterprise users. Essentially, the dashboard lets users create individual profiles complete with pictures, their declared areas of expertise, the recent projects that they've been working on, and the connections they have to other people within their company.
Additionally, the dashboard has a search function that allows users to search for people within their companies who have different skills and experience in particular fields. For example, if users have questions on topics such as government compliance or IT security protocols, they can search the dashboard for people in their company who have knowledge on these topics. The dashboard also provides users with references for their search results so that they can talk to other people within the company about just how knowledgeable a given employee is on a particular topic.
"The Sonar Dashboard is our way of addressing the problems of expertise location and contact finding, which are pretty much universal among all large enterprises," says Charles Armstrong, the CEO of Trampoline Systems.
Because privacy and security are obviously paramount to any business application, says Armstrong, the Sonar constantly asks its users what information they want to make public and what information they want to keep to themselves. Thus, if three employees are working on a project that has a lot of sensitive corporate data, users can elect to not have it be part of their profile. Because the dashboard system provides automatic updates to profiles, it regularly sends e-mails to users to make certain that they want new information to be public.
"Trampoline is in a unique position in that we were founded to do social computing for the enterprise," he says. "We knew that security and privacy and having automated updates were going to be crucial."
Armstrong says that this initial version of the Sonar Dashboard is very simple and does not yet have advanced features such as click-to-call, which the company is interested in adding in the future. For now, though, the goal is simply to make an accessible profile system that mixes in the consumer-friendly format of Facebook with the professional slant of LinkedIn.
Earlier this month, Trampoline announced that it was offering the Sonar Flightdeck, a corporate relationship-mapping tool designed to take information from sources such as SMS, e-mails, databases and data repositories, and provide IT managers with visual data to depict information flows and social networks within their company.