Microsoft TownHall – An Engagement Platform

Microsoft TownHall – An Engagement Platform

New Signature attended an interesting briefing on Microsoft TownHall at Microsoft’s office earlier today. Microsoft TownHall is a cloud-based out-of-the-box engagement tool for use by political candidates, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. With TownHall you can quickly turn up a website to engage citizens, constituents, or consumers and gain valuable insights. TownHall does this by being true to its name. It is a pre-packaged application that allows visitors to the website to ask questions, vote on questions, post responses and build their reputation within the community. In Microsoft’s first beta customer, NASA, the built-in reputation system proved itself to be very effective, with some individuals earning just under 2 million points in just under 6 months.

A few key points on TownHall:

free to use;
open source so it can be customized and extended; and
must run on the Windows Azure Platform. (more…)
Ning Ending Free Service Won’t End Your Social Cloud
April 19, 2010 — Filed under: Creative, Industry Trends, News, Staff
Ning is a popular social networking platform that is available through a software as a service (SaaS) model. On April 15th, 2010 Ning announced that they will be phasing out their free service. New Signature works with many of our clients to build social networks using SaaS platforms (including Ning) and open source software platforms Drupal and Elgg. Today, Nick Judd drew on New Signature CEO Christopher Hertz’s expertise for his “Ning Ending Free Service Won’t End Your Social Cloud” post on techPresident. In the post, Nick helps make sense of how Ning’s change will impact nonprofits and political organizations. Below is an excerpt from the post:

Chris Hertz, a technology consultant whose firm, New Signature, has done work for the Center for American Progress, Center for New American Security and CREW, says Ning could have avoided a lot of the hang-wringing he’s seeing if the company just announced price points already.

“If you have a whole bunch of people who are relying on your product and you say, ‘hey, you’ve got to wait until May 4 to find out pricing information on these products,’ it puts people in an uncomfortable position,” Hertz said.

Until pricing information comes out, it would be unwise to switch from Ning, even if there are a lot of services out there looking to court restless current Ning clients, he added.

“Generally, I’ve been advising people to be in a holding pattern. We don’t know what the price points are, we don’t know what the features are.”

“A lot of people have made a big deal out of it,” he said, “but it’s possible that they come out in a few weeks and say, ‘well it’s going to be $20 a month for nonprofits.’”

Read Judd’s full post here. Contact New Signature if you need help building a social network for your organization.

Overview of the Business Productivity Online Suite (a.k.a., BPOS) from Microsoft Online Services
April 19, 2010 — Filed under: Industry Trends, Technology
Microsoft entered the hosting infrastructure market in 2005 with their acquisition of Frontbridge. Over the past 5 years, Microsoft has continually and incrementally improved their hosted solutions to include greater numbers of services. They have expanded beyond hosted Exchange services to hosted SharePoint and Office Communications Server.

Within the past year, Microsoft has created a product suite that incorporates all the hosted versions in an easy to use, quick to provision service named Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS). Services in this suite include:

Exchange Online
SharePoint Online
Office Communications Online
Office Live Meeting
New Signature has provided hosted solutions to our clients for many years and as a Microsoft Gold Partner we began testing BPOS as soon as it was released. We are very impressed with the service and have migrated a number of clients to BPOS. BPOS is a great fit for organizations that need high availability and comprehensive security, but don’t want to make a substantial capital investment in hardware and software to achieve these goals. Contact New Signature today to find out if BPOS is a good fit for your organization.

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