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Socialcast rolls out workplace 'discovery engine'

Socialcast, now less of a Twitter competitor than a work flow aggregator, continues to refine its product for the enterprise.

Socialcast, a company that impressively applies to business ideas from FriendFeed and Twitter, continues to refine its product.

The vision for a new release of the service, according to CEO Timothy Young, is to make it a universal, real-time platform for business communication. This means precisely nothing by itself. What the company is trying to do is this: take its FriendFeed-like person-to-person messaging system, and make it communicate with business tools like bug databases and CRM systems. So, for example, if you're subscribed to Suzy Sunshine in Sales, and she publishes a call report in Salesforce, you'll see the gist of the report in Socialcast immediately after she enters it.

More importantly, you'll be able to reply to the report from within Socialcast, and then other people in your network will see that dialogue. And it will get archived into the Salesforce system so people who work primarily in that system will also see the dialogue.

Personally, I'd love to use a system like this to track items in Bugzilla, not to mention various other internal corporate workflow systems, like our expense reimbursement product.

Young talked about this feature with me in September and says it's rolling out now. He says Socialcast isn't just a communications platform, like Twitter. He also calls it a "discovery engine" because it lets you discover what other people in your workplace are doing--even if they're not using Socialcast directly.

Socialcast is now a free hosted service, but the company will sell you an installable version of it, if you want it behind your firewall. It also offers setup services for a fee.

In the future, Young says, the company will offer "social business intelligence" tools on top of its services to tell you how information flows in a company. He says executives and human resources pros may use the data to find out who the "connectors" are in a company or to get reports on trending topics in the company.

Socialcast looks a lot like Twitter or FriendFeed, but it's designed to tap into corporate work flow systems. Socialcast

I expect that Socialcast will end up competing with Google Wave, but Young thinks that it will become a front end to Wave installations.

The company has 5,600 customers, Young says, and just less than 1 million users. Customers include NASA and Guitar Center.