ConnectBeam is a weeks-old startup looking to take social bookmarking into the enterprise sector. I love it when the cross-pollination between consumer services and business use starts with consumer practices and this is just one of many such developments recently. ConnectBeam makes tagging items into personal or shared archives simple, even in company intranets. It’s a straightforward use of social bookmarking technology with some nice touches and a fundamental business orientation.
Lead by Puneet Gupta and Prem Malhotra in Newark, California the company originated as a system for students. After academic publisher Reed Elsevier and other large vendors expressed interest in putting the system to use for business, ConnectBeam was reborn. Gupta told me that they are engaged in encouraging conversations with a number of large potential customers and are actively seeking funding as well.
I was impressed with ConnectBeam, both in terms of ease of use and security. The site is designed to incorporate just a little social networking into bookmarking activities. Users get their own archives, organized in topical pages, and can invite others inside or outside their company to view and/or contribute links to those pages. That permission can also be revoked, which is nice. Intranet pages behind a firewall can be bookmarked and accessed through IP validation.
User accounts are created in connection with your work email domain, commercial email domains can’t be used to start accounts. Readers here should be able to start free accounts at ConnectBeam to check it out with email addresses other than the big web mail names. The first five users per domain are free and a tiered pricing system will start once an organization’s user base has grown beyond five.
The ConnectBeam bookmarklet for adding a URL to your archive autopopulates all the requisite fields but also adds an image from the page, scrapes a summary of each page’s text and suggests tags. Archive project pages can be commented on and you can search either in your own archive or company wide.
Gupta told me that ConnectBeam can also work as a private label solution for companies with large web sites filled with various products and information. Most purchases are proceeded by online research and a bookmarking system allows potential customers to store and refer back to product and information pages later. Perhaps more importantly for vendors, Gupta says, the system could provide valuable forecasting and supply chain data.
I find anecdotal discussions about the usefulness of social bookmarking in large organizations and business all the time, but most use either public consumer grade services or an ad-hoc system developed in-house. I think that a vendor dedicated to providing this service has a lot of potential. I asked Gupta why companies would employ the services of a startup instead of looking to large established vendors to add social bookmarking to their offerings. He told me that startups have greater potential to be agile, disruptive and responsive. That’s a big part of the Web 2.0 story and I’ll be interested to see if ConnectBeam can find success in making it reality.