The future of collaboration in business

SHB alumnus founds real-time communications service

How can a social network be worth 100 billion US dollars only ten years after it was established? And how did it connect up nearly 1 billion people in such a relatively short time? What is it that captivates several hundred million users of a microblogging service, and motivates them to send several thousand quick texts per second? The people behind Facebook and Twitter recognized the world of possibilities opened up by real-time communications in private life. For Lukas Pfeiffer, the fact that these real-time communications can also be the future of business collaboration is a certainty. As an alumnus of the Steinbeis School of Management and Innovation at Steinbeis University Berlin, he was quick to start looking into these possibilities. During his studies as a Bachelor of Business Administration, he investigated how microblogs can be integrated into the internal business communications of a company. What started out as a student project has now grown into his own business.

History shows: A new widespread form of collaboration is generally adopted in business every 20 years. After the telephone, fax machines and email, a new mode of communication is taking center stage: realtime communication. This adoption in business is often referred to as “Enterprise Adoption.”

Another thing businesses and organizations want to do is share information on topical issues among colleagues without distractions like games and videos. Whereas, previously, co-workers constantly sent each other e-mails, now they exchange information through real-time communication. To work, communication must be easy or intuitive to use, and it must be fast (happen in real time). This is exactly what Lukas Pfeiffer recognized in his bachelor project as the next evolution level of business communications.

A key issue for small and large companies is how to enable several colleagues to communicate at the same time – in real time – without them constantly having to CC or BCC others. This is where “Enterprise Microblogging” comes into play. The term microblogging arose primarily through the popularity of short messaging services like Twitter. Translated into a business setting, microblogging means: short messages instead of long, rambling emails.

During his studies, Lukas Pfeiffer and his team developed a Berlin-based enterprise microblogging service called “swabr”. The name is based on the German word for “Bulletin Board 2.0”: Schwarzes Brett 2.0. It’s similar to Facebook or Twitter, but was designed exclusively for companies. It incorporates elements of Facebook (closed network) with others from Twitter (short messages) in one, single communication platform. The service replaces group emails in corporate communication and allows businesses to use their own network for communicating. This way, companies have access to an automated, continually expanding, yet searchable, knowledge base. Each company on swabr has access to its own private network for employees with a verified e-mail address. Employees can network better with colleagues using the enterprise microblogging service, allowing them to make better use of internal company information.

And the service is really taking off: in the meantime, 3,000 companies are using swabr for internal communications, many of them through a free basic membership option. It’s a great success for Lukas Pfeiffer, who was able to use the management skills he acquired during his studies in the founding of swabr GmbH.

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