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Social media: Huddle helping CIOs with that synching feeling

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27th Apr 2012
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Dr Katy Ring of K2 Advisory speaks with Alastair Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of Huddle, about the concerns identified by CIOs adopting social media tools.

According to Wikipedia , a huddle is "when a team gathers together, usually in a tight circle, to strategise, motivate or celebrate. It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information, and acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult".

This means it is a very apt name for the secure enterprise collaboration functionality that Huddle provides. And to get to the nub of that functionality, all you need to consider is 1) whether you are considering migrating Sharepoint to a Cloud delivery service, and 2) whether you have a problem with employees using Dropbox and/or other consumer data synchronisation and storage solutions. If the answer to one or both questions is yes, then it is worth checking out Huddle.

Speaking with Alastair Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of Huddle, it is clear that the company has large deployments in enterprise functions such as sales and marketing, HR, operations, legal and finance where it is typically bought in to the organisation by business users. This is because Huddle is an intelligent collaboration software vendor combining content management with social software techniques. As Mitchell explains: "the challenge is that content is often in silos which should be 'live' and accessible to anyone. Huddle can synchronise content and make recommendations on the content you would like/should be seeing."

Customers include Diageo, Kia Motors and Centrica each of which use Huddle to enable them to store content and share the information between people. The tools both automate and standardise content, for example, Huddle will tell you who has updated your document. This enables real collaboration around daily documents. The tool also incorporates workflows to approve documents to manage publishing and notification to manage who can see documents and why in order to manage content in the collaborative sphere.

One of the issues identified by CIOs adopting social media tools in the K2 Advisory study “Collaboration: using social media across internal silos to improve productivity” is the issue of integration. Huddle integrates with Microsoft identity and permissions via Active Directory single sign on, as well as providing APIs to integrate with record management systems.

Huddle has some interesting go-to-market differentiators – it has what it calls its True Uptime 99.9% money-back guarantee. Mitchell claims that, unlike other competitors, this guarantee factors in all releases and maintenance time, so that there is no uptime caveat around software maintenance because "in the Cloud environment you need to be up 24/7". It also guarantees active use of Huddle by 100% of initial user groups within 90 days or a refund of the three month subscription. The metric for this is users doing things with content, not just logging in. It is because of this focus on using social media with a purpose - content management – that Huddle is confident about adoption.

Huddle Sync

So, on to that "shadow" IT Dropbox issue: Mitchell explains that Huddle synchronisation is designed for the enterprise with a push data model, while consumer personal synchronisation is a pull data model. For example, HR may have a new policy on office security and the social software system should know that all relevant employees need to see that document and can push it out to their devices.

In other words, Huddle “knows” what you need to see and synchronises the content to your device, based on prioritisation. So, for example, using Huddle patent-pending algorithms, you can see the entire shared drive on all your devices, but the solution intelligently synchronises data to the storage capabilities of your device.

The service, currently available for Windows desktop and as an iPhone app works like this: enterprise users have access to sections of files that their IT managers enable them to use. Then over time, Huddle says that its algorithms learn what a user is accessing, and starts to offer relevant files to them, which they can use online or offline. IT support gets full audit reports of what gets accessed and when.

If you are interested in exploring the applicability of the solution, the private beta programme for Huddle Sync was launched 21st Feb and you can register interest to participate at www.huddle.com/huddlesync.

Dr Katy Ring is director of K2 Advisory.

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