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Facebook gets first business application

Enterprise tool for social-networking site

Open source content-management company Alfresco has integrated its application with Facebook to enable its users to communicate with customers and partners. Alfresco claims that it was the first Facebook application developed for business users.

Chief Technical Officer John Newton said that Alfresco had originally planned to develop an application for MySpace but thought that Facebook was much more appealing to business users. For the latest on social-networking and business websites, visit the Broadband Advisor zone.

Newton admitted that there were some companies who had reacted to the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook by trying to prohibit their use by employees but said that many companies, particularly those with younger staff members, thought Facebook was a useful marketing tool.

Newton said many organisations wanted to be as open as possible: "This is about the wisdom of crowds," he said. "You see many companies, like IBM, adopting the 'open' mindset and abandoning the idea that communication should be closed."

The Alfresco integration with Facebook will enable an organisation's employees to access and use corporate information with tools they feel comfortable with. Features will include the ability to upload and view documents through the Facebook newsfeed.

Newton said that some of Alfresco's customers had already expressed interest in the Facebook integration. "Most of the interest has been from organisations interested in being as open to as many people as possible: these include churches and government organisations."

He said that some of the security concerns that employers had expressed about Facebook didn't apply. "Apart from the layers of security within Facebook itself - and they operate at many levels - we also have the ability to authenticate users."

As to whether this is the first enterprise application. Newton said that the company had had many conversations with Facebook in developing the integration and he had been told that there was no other company developing a business tool for Facebook.

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