Today Socialcast has announced the beta of Strides, its first big launch since VMware acquired them earlier this summer. Just connecting everyone on an internal social network isn't enough - everyone has to actually use the network for their work activities. And Strides is bringing a lightweight Web 2.0 form of project management, layering it on top of the social networking tool.

The Strides UI looks a lot like Google+. The left-hand pane has objectives and tasks that are scheduled for today and the future. The right-hand pane has the usual activity feed with streams, projects, tasks, and other activities, which is similar to the normal Socialcast activity stream. You can set due dates and reorder your priorities and see at a glance the status of all of your projects and the status of everyone else's projects too. And you can attach projects to particular corporate goals.

You don't need to be an existing Socialcast user; Strides operates independently. But it can connect to your Socialcast social graph and accounts if you do.

Competition

They claim that other social networking tools such as Jive, Lotus Connections and Socialtext (the latter covered here), have lighter-weight task and project features, and that dedicated project management tools are too cumbersome to use. But no matter how lightweight the features, you may still not want to use them. To really benefit from this product and be effective, you have to spend a lot of time devoted to updating your activities and type a lot into the system throughout your workday. That may not be everyone's cup of tea. Socialcast's CEO Tim Young, interviewed in a PwC Technology Forecast article, mentions that the major objection he hears from his customers who are slow to adopt his tech that they have trouble embedding it into their existing workflows. Strides is another way to try to tackle this, and make the data streams more relevant to these late adopters.

What is appealing about Strides (see a sample view above, click to enlarge) is that it combines the task and project management with a real-time messaging and activity feed stream, to try to embed the project into the user's work day. But it could also be its biggest drawback, too, if a user doesn't want to instrument and document his or her moment-by-moment work life.

While they haven't yet announced pricing, you can sign up for the beta and they will gradually accept your requests. Once you get accepted, you can invite anyone else to join your work team for free of charge. About 50 organizations are presently testing it now, with one account as large as 3,500 users.