Social. Social. Social. It seems that no matter where you turn these days someone is trying to make social media tools work for them. Enterprises are no different. As employees get more and more familiar with these tools in their personal lives, they expect to put them to use for business purposes. And many companies are jumping at the chance to fill the void and provide tools for these companies. One such company is Inmagic. With the recent 3.5 release of Presto—its application that enables non-technical business users to create and manage what it calls KnowledgeNets—the company hopes to bring more functionality to the place where content meets people in enterprises.
As Inmagic puts it, Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs) are virtual environments where content combines with human resource assets and subject matter expertise (SME) to address critical business initiatives and problems ranging from product innovation and proposal development to competitive intelligence and consumer insight. SKNs span enterprise silos and merge relevant content, search, and community insight, improving individual and organizational productivity, efficiency, and agility. And these are core to the Inmagic’s mission. “Throughout its history, it’s really focused on two missions: information access, and giving business users control over the systems,” says Bob Warren, Inmagic’s VP of products.
“As adoption of Social Knowledge Networks continues to accelerate, Inmagic continues to enhance and extend capabilities to meet needs and requirements of our customers,” says Warren. “Presto 3.5 extends the application of Social Knowledge Networks through KnowledgeNets, putting collaborative relationships between experts and staff in the context of business objectives, and improves performance and security for a more holistic approach to information access and collaboration.”
Presto is an application that allows non-technical staff to build and manage these KnowledgeNets, without the help of IT, creating a space where people can go to work on a particular process and have access to all the content and people needed to get the job done. Perhaps even more importantly, these spaces allow companies to capture the knowledge that might otherwise stay filed away in employees’ email, or even in their own memory banks. So as employees move on or retire, these SKNs become a resource for the people left behind.
This newest iteration, though, is offering one of the basic tools that users of social networking sites have come to expect: discussion forums. Inmagic says these forums connect collaboration activities (e.g., commenting, rating, tagging) to a specific process or topic, (e.g., proposal development, sales enablement, competitive analysis), and retain the discussion details, unlike email. Warren says the forums are a “prime mechanism to get people out of email”—which, according to him, the company thinks of as “a necessary evil.”
Also included in the 3.5 release are content relations, “Social Security” through extended single sign-on, and enterprise-scale performance optimization. Inmagic says the content relations establishes a one-to-one or one-to-many relationship between Presto objects (e.g., a contract may reference and link to multiple P.O.’s). On the “Social Security” front, this newly enhanced capability provides striated levels of access to information based on user authorization and privileges, creating cohesive security across KnowledgeNet repositories. “Authorization and privileges dictate which users can access information from other sources of data within the organization. A tailored approach to security allows for a more seamless flow of information access and dissemination,” says Inmagic.
Partners got access to the upgrade first, but customers were able to start upgrading weeks ago. Subscription customers are covered under all updates, and licensed customers are as well, as long as they keep up maintenance and support. The update is now generally available. “It’s what we call an in-place upgrade. Take the system offline for an hour and upgrade and they’re ready to go.”
Inmagic client OpenFields says it leverages the Presto platform to deliver knowledge transfer items to practitioners, students, and researchers in the British agricultural and environmental sectors. “We needed a product that offered the flexibility to manage the different types of content that we are delivering to the sector. Presto gives us that flexibility,” says Eric Howell, chairman of the OpenFields Project. “Coupled with its Web 2.0 features, Presto aligns well with our need to interact with users when they visit OpenFields and download resources, while offering a rich user experience.”
The evolution of Presto won’t end here though. “We’re doing another point release in the fall, and that will be focused on connecters and ingestions,” Warren says. But the company is already looking further down the road. The next full release for Presto will be after the first of next year. “The most important thing there will be the idea of getting down to ‘My Presto’—where people can create their own workspaces and share them as desired,” says Warren. Also on Presto’s agenda is the idea of an open social protocol that would allow social tools to communicate with each other.