MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 5, 2010 – For many software developers—particularly those focused on social computing—the world of deep enterprise computing seems far removed from a world of widgets and tweets.
Huddle, a U.K.-based software-as-a-service BizSpark One startup, took first place almost unanimously.
But social computing has become a driving force behind “Enterprise 2.0” – aimed at making large companies more collaborative and agile. Next-generation social computing tools are rapidly re-shaping the ways in which corporations create and share information. For developers the challenge is no longer whether to target enterprise IT, but how. What platform is best? How do you accelerate bringing the power of social computing to the enterprise? How can the new communication tools deliver value on existing IT investments?
Enter the SharePoint 2010 SocialFest
Those questions were at the heart of SharePoint 2010 SocialFest, an event held in the Silicon Valley the week of Jan. 25, providing a blend of hands-on development work, coaching, and community building around Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.
Microsoft released the beta version of that product last November to positive media and customer reaction, much of it in regards to the product’s development platform capabilities. SharePoint enables rapid deployment of enterprise applications that take advantage of the collaboration capabilities of a portal-based platform. This latest version builds on the broad market acceptance of SharePoint for sharing and collaboration across the enterprise.
Seven startups from Brazil, France, the U.K., and the U.S. participated in SharePoint 2010 SocialFest: Calinda Software, Cortex Intelligence, Confer, Huddle , Leverage Software, Liaise, and Loqu8. During the event the startups competed in building social media applications based on the new platform.
During the week-long competition the startups created a wide range of solutions:
Calinda MindUP developed a SharePoint 2010 “mail space” that groups related conversations, enhancing collaboration by helping teams get a better view of their projects.
Confer’s SharePoint 2010 integration extends the simplicity of its microblogging Web application within a SharePoint installation. Confer bridges the gap between internal and external employees, and simplifies the communication process.
Cortex Intelligence’s market intelligence service allows SharePoint 2010 users to pull in relevant data from external sources, enabling users to share, discuss and act on insights gained by the market intelligence.
Huddle for SharePoint 2010 enables enterprise teams to invite external users into their daily workflow and synchronize their SharePoint document libraries with content stored on the Huddle network, or on other SharePoint sites.
Leverage Software DesignSpace transforms a set of e-mail threads into an on-demand social workspace—automatically, with no data entry or administration required—and then lets users share that information with others through SharePoint 2010.
Liaise for SharePoint 2010 turns text in e-mail messages into structured KeyPoints (actions/issues, due dates, people and priorities) and ensures that SharePoint is always up-to-date.
With Loqu8 Prelude users can instantly access their SharePoint data by hovering their mouse over a word in their document. The Loqu8 Prelude pop-up window displays contextually relevant information from SharePoint 2010.
In the end Huddle received the SocialFest judges’ nod as the best SharePoint 2010 implementation. As the winner, Huddle will attend the next Enterprise 2.0 conference with the marketing support of the SharePoint team.
BizSpark Resources for Startups
Sharing their insights on the applications that BizSpark startups had built on SharePoint 2010 are Vispi Daver, Partner, Sierra Ventures; Mike Kwatinetz, General Partner, Azure Capital; Vivek Mehra, Partner, August Capital and Sergio Monsalve, Principal, Norwest Venture Partners.
SocialFest is the latest implementation of the broader Microsoft BizSpark effort to connect a global community of startup developers, supporting partners and customers, backed by tools, guidance and involvement from Microsoft. Launched in November 2008, BizSpark is designed to help entrepreneurs around the world bring new software solutions to life using Microsoft platform technologies. More than 30,000 startups worldwide have joined BizSpark since its inception.
These startups are a driving force within the rapidly expanding ranks of developers—more than 5,000 to date—who are enabling social and collaborative solutions for more than 17,000 SharePoint customers worldwide.
Five of the competing startups in SocialFest are participants in BizSpark One, the newest extension of BizSpark, targeting select startups with significant potential to impact the market. BizSpark One companies work one-on-one with Microsoft and are supported by BizSpark Network Partner experts in financing, marketing and other fields, to hone their business as well as product strategies, to give them the best possible entry into the commercial market.
Lynda Ting, director of business development with Microsoft’s Strategic and Emerging Business Team (SEBT), focuses on emerging software startups in the area of collaboration and communication, all in support of BizSpark. In her role, Ting talks to a wide variety of software startups. She recently started noticing a trend.
Social Networking Comes to the Enterprise
“I noticed over the last several months that dozens of social media startups were eager to move into the enterprise space. They wanted to bring capabilities like micro-blogging and external communities into Enterprise 2.0 environments,” Ting says. “But they did not necessarily have a good sense of the full potential of SharePoint as the way to bring their innovations to market. They were asking me, ‘How do I integrate with SharePoint? How do I integrate with SharePoint to accelerate the IT sale?’”
That realization led Ting to work with the Microsoft SharePoint team and .NET development experts to hatch the idea for a SharePoint competition that would jump-start development work for the enterprise, and SocialFest was the result.
While the development competition during SocialFest was intense, all the seven startups were able to participate in a broad range of other activities during the week—including a business review by a panel of venture capitalists (VCs). The sessions not only gave the VCs a chance to dive into the product strategies of the startup companies, but also to critique their broader business planning and go-to-market approaches.
“The startups were challenged in those sessions,” Ting said. “It gave them a great deal of insight into making sure they had strong value propositions, and were ready to sell to the commercial enterprise software market. VCs were really impressed with the quality of the startups, not just their technology. Connections were made.”