FOWA: Will Huddle corner the market for enterprise social networking?

FOWA exhibitor Huddle, the enterprise social networking service, has made a timely entrance into the marketplace – at the precise moment many CIOs are beginning to ask: “How can we simultaneously satisfy our staff’s desire to use social networking tools, improve our business efficiency and ensure the security of sensitive company and customer information?”

Huddle’s answer is to host secure online spaces where companies and extended networks of partners and customers can come together to collaborate on projects, documents and ideas. However, there are still some key features missing – such as voice conferencing and real-time, collaborative freehand whiteboarding – although the company told me features such as these are in the pipeline and they will always aim to respond to users’ demands for additional functionality.

But with several others eyeing this potentially lucrative market (quite possibly set to be the first ‘killer enterprise app’ for software-as-a-service) I suspect Huddle will need to beef up their offering sooner rather than later if they want to capture a good slice of the action.

My own niggle with Huddle as it stands is that the interface currently has the slightly clunky, tabbed look-and-feel of LinkedIn. I suspect, certainly in the UK, the eventual winner in this market is going to look and feel much more like Facebook or iGoogle, and will ideally give workers a similar ability to customise their pages and add the applications/widgets they need to perform their tasks, collaborative or otherwise, in the way that best suits them.

Of course, they’re still going to have Facebook open all day in another browser window…

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