I wrote about WorkLight entering the enterprise Facebook market with their Workbook application on the Fast Forward blog. Last week I spoke with David Lavenda, their Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy, about the range of products they offer. David said the company was founded by two executives from Amdocs (NYSE:DOX) and other hi-tech companies, who saw the well-documented trend of employees bringing consumer web products into work. This has caused concern with the IT folks and one of their main concerns is security. Many employees, especially the younger ones, are used to advanced features, transparency and networking enhancements found on the new web. In many cases, they are bringing these tools in whether or not IT sanctions them. WorkLight rightly saw a market here and started the company in 2006. The company’s flagship product, WorkLight for the Enterprise, is a secure and scalable server-based product that provides protected access to enterprise data and expertise through consumer web interfaces. They started with RSS feeds. Then moved to Ajax and gadgets, and now have their Facebook application.
Their tools allow for a secure connection between most any Web 2.0 front end, such as Facebook, to back end enterprise applications. The web tools include iGoogle Home pages, MS Live, Netvibes, Yahoo widgets, and others. They also offer gadgets for more tradtional enterprise web tools such as Sharepoint but their main focus is supporting secure connections with consumer web tools. This allows employees to get enterprise information anywhere with a consumer tool they are comfortable with. In addition, WorkLight partners with organizations, such as retail banks, to allow them to offer their customers the secure use of consumer web interfaces to their personal financial data. These customers can bypass the bank portal and just use RSS feeds and consumer web gadgets to get updates to their personal data. Needless to say the security concerns here are quite intense and the expectations are high, so this is a great demonstration of web security.
The most popular interface they support appears to be Facebook. They found that some of their customers tried to build their own social networking tool using Sharepoint or Lotus Connections and found this difficult and adoption was hard. The existing popularity and familiarity of Facebook made the adoption much easier once security was added through Workbook. The trend to sell to the business user within the enterprise who finds it hard to access information and online marketing people at banks for their customer tools.
One of their clients is a bank with over 60,000 employees working in locations across the world. The bank wanted to leverage employee expertise and encourage internal interactions, without compromising security and regulatory requirements. Through WorkBook, employees now connect with colleagues from other departments and locations, locate people with certain knowledge or common interest area, ask questions and get answers, create and join discussion groups, etc. The platform integrates with enterprise applications, e.g. to share and bookmark documents from the company’s document management system.
In another case, their client provides support and services to telecommunications operators around the world. These personnel must continuously report hours worked, in order to properly bill customers. Managers need to have an up-to-date view of the hours spent on specific projects and customers. They also need to be aware of missing and invalid time reporting. The WorkLight server, which resides in the company’s data center, is integrated with the ERP system. This makes the time reporting capabilities available to employees through the desktop and web-based gadgets that enable easy reporting of work hours. These Ajax-based mini-applications are resident on the employee’s desktop as part of Windows Vista, Apple Sidebar or Yahoo widgets. Alternatively, they are securely integrated into the employee’s personal home page in iGoogle, Microsoft Live or Netvibes. Employees can also define RSS feeds, such as: “My approved time reports”, “My employees’ missing reports” or “New reports for project X”. It is great to see examples like these two cases as they help to validate the promise of Enterprise 2.0, as well as provides additional implementation ideas.
WorkLight plans to continue to support the latest consumer web tools. They will let these tools makers such as Google provide the innovation and develop the audience. Then they offer the security to take the new tools safely behind the firewall.