Although enterprise social networks are intended to foster communication between the company employees, it remains a fact that the employees do not always remain in charge of their own parameters. This is a situation that the Scube project founders set out to remedy.
How can companies encourage the use of internal social networks? Perhaps by letting anyone and everyone launch their own network and allowing them to invite their colleagues to join in. This is the thinking that led nine students at Paris-based Epitech – an institution focussing on Computer Innovation and Expertise – to develop Scube, a Content Management System enabling individuals to create a private social network for themselves. Scube enables people working for a firm, an NGO, etc to link up on the Internet, but it differs from existing social networks in that it has an interface which users can customise completely to their own needs. Since the network is private, the data generated are stored on the company’s server and belong entirely to the user(s), unlike Facebook for instance, which claims ownership of the data generated on its website.
To use Scube, you have to install it on a server and configure it yourself. It then works in the same way as a traditional enterprise social network, enabling data sharing – profiles, agendas, messages, announcements, and so on – with the administrator, who can create one or more groups and communicate with them. So, for a company, various groups such as employees, middle managers, HR, senior management, and so on, can be set up. Whereas company employees may be reluctant to join in on traditional internal social networks because they are not comfortable letting their boss see everything in their profile, Scube solves this problem by offering the user a choice. Filters can be placed as desired on each of the groups concerned, as is the case for Facebook-type networks.
Interacting with other social networks
This means for instance that a user could allow his/her colleagues to see photos, but not to see other information or, vice versa, s/he can authorise superiors to see only text posts but not photos. However, the Scube team also want to enable co-existence and interaction with the major social networks. When as a user you create a profile on Scube, you can select the ‘social networks’ option. You just need to enter the ID that you use on Facebook for example, and the information you share on Scube will then be transferred on to that particular social network, and vice versa. The purpose of this functionality is to offer users the greatest possible freedom of action. “We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the user, and we want to ensure that s/he doesn’t feel trapped. In contrast to Facebook, the Scube initiative is more about giving people rights than taking their rights away,” argues Kevin Beauferey, one of Scube’s creators. Basically however, Scube is still at the project stage, and the mobile version is due for improvement as at the moment it can only be used in passive mode. “Our long-term aim is to develop a mobile app that works as well as the web version,” explain the founders.