PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Socialtext's latest release continues to expand the features of its enterprise social software platform. Version 4.0 is being sent out to registered users Wednesday; the company also offers enterprises an on-premises appliance version that can also be updated.
The company is one of several enterprise software firms pushing tools to tap the power of wikis and other popular consumer collaborative tools. For example, Socialtext's Signals is a Twitter-like microblogging tool designed for businesses and large organizations.
In version 4.0, Signals now has filtering options designed to make it easier for users to get at the most relevant messages. Users can post a tweet-like Signal to a specific group they belong to in the organization -- such as Marketing or Operations -- or to all employees. Meanwhile, a drop-down menu gives users the option to view Signals only from specific groups.
Similarly, version 4.0 adds filtering to its Activity Streams, which lets users see ready updates of what groups or individuals are working on.
"They [Socialtext] are aligning these technologies more closely than ever before with activities that enterprises do and work that needs to get done," Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz told InternetNews.com. "The customization they're doing around Signals and Activities makes the information coming in contextually aware and cuts down the signal-to-noise ratio versus the kind of clutter you get from Twitter and Facebook.
"This is also a 'hardened' application with security features that enterprises are going to appreciate," Koplowitz said.
Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee said the company has seen an uptick in use and adoption of its platform since it introduced Signals last year.
"We're selling bigger deals and the rate of adoption is [twice] what we were seeing earlier," Lee told InternetNews.com. "When you can get thousands of employees using these tools at once, that's an opportunity for our customers to get more value."
Collaborative Groups created on the fly
Another new feature in 4.0 is Collaborative Groups, which lets you create a homepage for projects, initiatives or group interests. Anyone can create a Collaborative Group on the fly, complete with its own microblogging channel and activity stream of member updates.
"You can have different types of groups and levels of privacy, whether you want to keep it open to others or keep it super-private," Lee said. "We've gotten beaten up over the years on how important privacy and security is."
A group can be private but open to new members. So non-members could see, for example, a Competitive Strategy group has started and can request admission.
Version 4.0 also adds "presence indication," which lets users see someone's availability by hovering the mouse over their avatar in Socialtext, which indicates whether they're available. Socialtext said the feature also ties in presence information from the popular instant message services.
Forrester's Koplowitz said Socialtext is doing what it needs to do to stand out in a competitive social networking services market.
"What they've always been about is trying to be the first to develop consumer social media technology that is hardened for the enterprise," he said. "So the customers that like that are the ones that want to stay on the cutting edge."
"When the technology is commoditized, big companies like Google and Microsoft gain because they are already a preferred supplier. Socialtext's game is to out sprint the competition with new features and so far they have," he added.