Xobni, the Outlook plugin that reveals the hidden social network in your inbox, has today launched a business service called Xobni Enterprise. With this, I.T. administrators are being given new tools to deploy and manage the plugin across corporate desktops. In addition, the company is offering customizable extensions for popular enterprise systems including Salesforce CRM, SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics, and others. It can even tap into a company's own information store saved in an LDAP database like Microsoft's Active Directory or it can pull from other internal websites.
Deployment and Management Features
With Xobni Enterprise, I.T. admins can manage the deployment and permissions surrounding the plugin's use via a web-based portal that provides access to user's profiles as well as a groups management feature. By placing different subsets of users into groups, I.T. can deploy custom versions of the plugin to different users. For example, everyone company-wide may get a plugin that offers LDAP integration, but only sales professionals would receive the version that connects to Salesforce. Admins can also choose to "switch off" other previously default integrations such as the Facebook and Twitter extensions.
To push the plugin out to end users, Xobni Enterprise offers an MSI file and registry settings that can be modified as necessary.
Extensions for Salesforce, SharePoint, and More
At launch time, Xobni's Solution Provider Program has partnered with a number of Enterprise vendors to provide extensions and integrations for their new system. The current list of partners includes Atlius Consulting, Cogent, Echo Lane and Interdyne BMI, which help Xobni integrate SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce CRM platforms among others.
The new service also comes with an Extensions Software Development Kit (SDK) which allows in-house developers to write their own extensions to integrate other platforms beyond those which are currently available. Xobni suggests this SDK could be used to deliver company news and information from an internal corporate portal, specific business application, or any other web service.
Another general enhancement available with this version of the plugin is Xobni's expanded search capabilities that allows users to search calendar appointments, tasks and archived PST files. The search feature includes advanced filters which let users find results by limiting searches to email contents only or the To:, From:, and or Subject: fields of their email messages. Users can also access their entire contact database from the auto-complete field in Outlook's "Compose" window.
The company webpage for Xobni Enterprise does not include any pricing information, only a link to "Request More Info" from the company. This is likely because each Xobni system is being somewhat custom-built in terms of price because there are additional costs to run the pre-defined extensions created by the company. Depending on which extensions a company chooses to deploy and however many users will be using them, the overall cost of the Xobni Enterprise system will vary. However, the company informs us that the system starts at $30 per user per year with volume discounts available.
Xobni has seen over 3 million downloads of their plugin, including both free and paid versions, since their initial debut. This new offering represents the second revenue stream for the company, the first being the launch of Xobni Plus, a premium version of the plugin that sells for $29.95. They also claim to have a presence in 80% of Fortune 500 companies thanks to employee adoption outside of the traditional I.T. infrastructure, a trend known as self-provisioning and one that has steadily increased over the years.
Companies looking to maintain control over what their employees can do on their company computers often end up having no choice but to purchase the enterprise services provided by the startups their employees are already using in order to once again centralize control within I.T. If Xobni's adoption across the enterprise is as strong as they claim, they may soon have several companies looking to implement the Xobni Enterprise Service so they can do just this. Other companies may be tempted to try the product for the first time now that it offers I.T. friendly tools and enterprise level support.
More information about Xobni Enterprise is available here on the company's website.