My friend Derek Showerman introduced me to Mark Sylvester, CEO of introNetworks last week because Mark and I both live on the West Coast, and Derek thought I would be intrigued with the introNetworks social network and community software platform. It also turned out that introNetworks was hosting a web chat on community management with my friends Jim Storer and Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable last week – so it turned into a perfect storm for me to get acquainted with the introNetworks platform.
Needless to say, I was suitably impressed with the introNetworks platform.
What is interesting is that I have conducted fairly exhaustive surveys of the ‘white label’ community software landscape on two occasions over the last 4 years, and since I am fairly plugged in on the social media front thought I was current on all of the major players. But somehow, introNetworks managed to sneak under my radar despite their fairly impressive roster of customers. Part of this is due to the fact that introNetworks is a fairly small company and they rely on word-of-mouth for sales while devoting most resources to making their product better. The other reason is that most (if not all) of introNetwork’s customers have their social networks hidden behind a firewall so it was unlikely that I would stumble across an installation.
However, there is a Test Drive link on their homepage which lets you register for their Test Drive network community, and check it out for yourself.
introNetworks came onto the scene about 8 years ago when they designed a custom social networking site for 2003 TED conference. (sidenote – TED is an exclusive conference that brings together ‘high-powered’ people with ideas to share and spread.) The original site was built in just 8 weeks and the founders realized that they could create a business out of creating networks for others. Since then, introNetworks has deployed over 200 implementations.
Based on my quick hands-on review, I like two things about the introNetworks platform:
- Profiling and networking – introNetworks has a different focus on profiles than most other white label vendors. In fact, profiles play such an important role in that you cannot even get into an introNetworks community site until you have completed a fairly extensive profile. Based on my experience as a community manager, it is hard to get people to share their profile information with you – and once shared, it is not always easy for members to find others with similar interests and backgrounds. But the introNetwork approach makes this process fairly painless to complete and makes it easy to find members who share your interests. To give you a sense of what this part of their solutions looks like, I have copied some screen shots below. And it would be interesting to see their technology applied to job profiling or skill matching solutions.
- Flash interface – Their platform is built using Adobe Flex 3 software so the implementation looks great and is snappy to boot. It definitely has a Web 2.0/3.0 feel to it and seems to be rather intuitive.
When you create a profile for an introNetworks community, you must complete a detailed profile that identifies what you have in common with other members on 4 different axes – My Focuses, My Background, My Experiences and My Business Challenges. While the profile takes longer to complete than many other platforms I’ve experienced, the results are well worth it. Plus, the flash technology used by introNetworks makes it ‘fun’ to complete your profile as you drag-and-drop your choices. The choices are totally customizable for each implementation
The power of completing the profile comes about when you look at the profile map as detailed in my profile map below. Using the profile map, I can easily see who has interests and background most aligned with my own. There is also a list view and map view of the members as well.
If you are in the market for a white label social network or community platform you definitely need to check out introNetworks. They create networks around events, members and e-learning. Pricing for their SaaS solution is not disclosed on their site, but based on my brief conversation with Mark Sylvester it appears to be very reasonable and significantly less than many other solutions that I’ve seen in the market.
Recommendation: While the introNetwork approach may not be for all situations, definitely add them to your shortlist of vendors when shopping for a new or upgraded platform