Harmon.ie adds social collaboration tools to Outlook

Harmon.ie, a Microsoft Outlook (s msft) add-on that’s intended to make corporate email more social, is rolling out new social features to aggregate communication, connection and collaboration tasks in one place.

Harmon.ie provides an interface for Microsoft SharePoint directly within Outlook. It simplifies collaboration and document version control by letting users send live links to SharePoint documents, rather than emailing individual docs that are hard to manage. Users can edit, rate, or tag documents, and see and manage previous versions, all directly inside Outlook. According to the developers, enterprises that have large investments in SharePoint have found that using Harmon.ie has increased end-user SharePoint adoption from 30 percent to as high as 80 percent..

Harmon.ie 3.0, being released Tuesday in beta, adds social features that recognize that collaboration is about people as much as documents. The new “people” tab in the Harmon.ie sidebar lets users see colleagues’ profiles and availability. Presence notifications are geared toward work environments, since they can be used to show what project or document an individual is working on. The people tab also displays a multi-threaded activity stream, and lets workers call, chat or video conference using Microsoft Lync/OCS, Lotus Sametime (s ibm) or Cisco UC (s csco).

Harmon.ie 3.0 also simplifies the creation of ad-hoc groups centered around a specific task. The “suggested colleagues” feature recommends possible group members based on the frequency of interaction (by email, chat or voice) and by whether they have co-authored or co-edited documents in the past.

Since Simon wrote about Harmon.ie a few months ago, several other apps have added some similar features to the email interface, for the simple reason that many workers in the enterprise spend a lot of their time there. Xobni, for example, offers “gadgets” for such enterprise collaboration tools as SharePoint, and several services, notably Rapportive and Gist, provide social connections directly from the email interface. And for organizations that don’t use SharePoint, Egnyte recently announced tools for file-sharing within Outlook.

Harmon.ie 3.0 is currently available in beta. The free version includes the SharePoint interface, but does not include the social features. The enterprise version of the software, which includes the social components, is priced at $125 per user, or on a subscription basis for $50 per user per year. In addition to the SharePoint version, the developer also offers a version for Lotus Notes, and another for Google Docs (s goog), although the latter does not currently include social features.