Hornbill eyes enterprise social networking with collaboration-based ITSM tool and app store

The first generation of enterprise social tools have failed to achieve the promise of improved business collaboration, according to Hornbill CEO Gerry Sweeney.


Supportworks vendor Hornbill has launched a software as a service app store to support a range of business applications with built-in collaboration tools, including a new IT service management system.

By placing collaboration at the heart of applications used by staff on a day-to-day basis, Hornbill CEO Gerry Sweeney hopes to drive adoption of enterprise social tools that has been lacking with separate software systems such as Jive or Yammer. 

“The first generation of collaboration tools – the ‘Facebook for business’ type tools – haven’t taken off in the way that the market was predicting or hoping, and businesses haven’t been able to get good value out of those tools yet," Sweeney told ComputerworldUK.

“We believe that the problem is that those tools have not been connected to the places where people have got to do their work, which is in the application itself.”

Although social networking technologies are employed by 70 percent of organisations, only 10 percent are successful at using them, according to a report last year from analyst Gartner.

In order to entice employees to actually make use of social tools made available, Hornbill has created a software as a service version of its flagship on-premise ITSM platform, with collaboration built in from the start. The new system, Service Manager, has similar functionality to the ITIL-based Supportworks, but will offer a range of social features, such as the ability to ‘follow’ service requests and comment at any point through their lifecycle. 

The collaboration tools will include workspaces, messaging and activity streams, allowing users to work together on projects, with easy transfer of information and rich media content such as images video and documents.

The product will coexist with Supportworks, Hornbill has stated, and has committed to continuing support and development of its on-premise application in future.

The London-based vendor, which serves customers including Halfords and Toyota, has also announced the launch of an enterprise app store through which customers can provision a number of other applications with in-built collaboration features.

From launch this will include a document manager tool and a contact management system, alongside the Service Manager software. Hornbill plans to develop more applications based on its collaboration platform in future, focusing on customer management, workforce management and workforce productivity.

“Instead of taking industry buzzwords such as social and just bolting it onto what we already had, what we have done is design a set of applications which are very specifically built on collaboration functionality,” Sweeney said. 

“It took about 18 months to build the Service Manager system from scratch. In the document management tool, it took six weeks end to end, because everything we needed was already in place," he added. "It is true that we are an ITSM company, but we are looking to become much more than that."

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