Are internal communities the new water cooler? And ROI for internal communities.

Michael Krieg from Web Crossing came over to give us a great demo of their WebCrossing Community and WebCrossing Neighbors (social networking) solutions. Web Crossing is a company with a long history, (founded in 1984 by Tim Lundeen) they have been working with communities for over 15 years. They have about 20 people in the company and are very global.

The one takeaway:
Internal communication ROI exists in reducing time to get key information and reducing email traffic, storage (not having store the same big PPT and Photos in 25 mailboxes), lower requirements for networking upgrades, and productivity savings from not having email clog the individual mailboxes.

The best part of the company is they “drink their own Merlot” by leveraging their community offering for internal collaboration and communication. Since they have employees at several locations, they use blogs, photos and wikis to share information – e.g. one of their employees attended a seminar in China and sent photos and posted his trip report on an internal blog.

Got us thinking: Are community capabilities the new watercooler for the globally spread out enterprise. With marketing in the SF bay area, support in Boulder CO, sales team nationally and development in India, even a small company such as ours needs to keep everyone in the loop and have meangingful conversations.

Email is not the most productive and we always get the 2 people CC on a list of 25 that believe that this type of information is “junk mail”. So then blogging about it and sharing photos in a community site gets the company “closer”.

With over 1000 customers, they have some good capability to fit the need. Blogs, Wikis, Forums, File Sharing, Chat and IM are all par for the course for any community / collaboration solution and they have all those capabilities. Their products are value priced starting at $65/month to about $2495 / month.