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If Your Enterprise Can't Beat Consumer Apps, Why Fight Them?

If Your Enterprise Can't Beat Consumer Apps, Why Fight Them?

WorkLight, a Web 2.0 start-up, helps transport enterprise data to consumer applications such as Facebook and iGoogle. In this Q&A, WorkLight's CEO says if you can do this securely, you should give users what they want — and you won't have to fork out the cash for SharePoint.

WorkLight is also used internally at companies, right? Tell us about that use case.

We do see steady revenue for internal use in companies. I'm talking about large corporations around the 100,000 employees. Those companies want to see our solution as a solution to traditional enterprise software packages. Instead of investing in an expensive portal, they use iGoogle internally. Instead of building a new collaboration and knowledge sharing product, they might use Facebook. People are already [using those sites], so instantly you get 40 or 50 percent adoption.

One of our customers is a bank with 80,000 employees. They did an internal survey, and they found that almost half of them, more than 40 percent, were already on Facebook. It would take them years to get those people actively collaborating and using something like SharePoint.

There's been a lot of developments in the effort to bring enterprise apps to the consumer market. LinkedIn recently launched its app platform, and Facebook announced that you could transport enterprise apps from Salesforce.com's Force.com platform over to Facebook. Is this a threat to WorkLight?

These are positive developments from our perspective. Our interest is very simple: we believe consumer platforms will become more and more open. Our value proposition isn't around the gadget [or widget] development. It's about adding the security and compliance and integration layers, which none of these Web 2.0 vendors are doing, nor is it in their business model. People are buying IBM and Microsoft because it's enterprise grade. It has all the things IT requires. But the consumer tools provide such a better end-user experience, and people have to choose between the two. Before, Facebook wasn't an option because of security. We want to provide the best of both worlds, something that's enterprise grade while giving that consumer experience.

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