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Forget about Intranet vs Extranet, Beezy launches Extended Groups

3/26/12 11:09 AM

Beezy groups are a very flexible way to organize corporate information. Its functionality covers most use-cases a company will need to organize collaboration between its employees. A group can be created for a department, for a competence, a specific project or just any process that involves different organizational units.

To enable full flexibility to the group concept we wanted to support a quite frequent scenario where a group of employees needs to share and interact with external people such as partners, contractors or any out-sourced collaborator.

How to do that while keeping the group concept dead-simple?

The quick and dirty way would have been to create a new type of group - called “external communities” this would be groups specially created to support external communication. This solution didn’t satisfy us for 3 reasons:

- Conceptual complexity: we want to avoid complication to our users and working with two concepts is harder than with one.
- Intra-extra dichotomy: having two different types of groups – one for internal and one for external – reminded us of the old Intranet/Extranet distinction and we frankly think things have evolved in the corporate world since those days. Corporate social networks should go beyond these rigid categorizations.
- Mutability: what happens when a group gets is initiated for internal use but later on requires access for external people. You shut down the internal one and create a new external group? Then migrate the old content? No, this method is broken.

Our answer is Extended groups. A simple way to allow external access to any existing group while providing a security framework to avoid compromising any corporate information.

So how does it work?

A group is created as usual. When an external collaborator is required to access the group, he is invited to sign-in through a web form (Form Based Authentication). He now can access the group and starts sharing and collaborating as any other user.

A warning message is displayed at several points of the interaction informing users that external people are now accessing the information of the group and a customizable policy link is available to make the rules clear.

It is simple, scalable and easy to understand. So all Beezy customers can now open their groups as needed to collaborate without barriers in a simple, flexible and secure way.

Maximo Castagno
Product Manager

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