VMware has announced that its SocialCast sharing tool will now work with Lithium Technologies tools to capture and integrate external customer data.

Last year VMware purchased SocialCast, a startup that encourages enterprise collaboration using activity streams that are tailored for individual users.

"This integration of the technologies takes a customer's tweet on Twitter or a post on Facebook that is captured by the Lithium platform and, based on certain triggers, moves that inside the company on to the SocialCast platform," says Tim Young, SocialCast's founder and now VP of social enterprise at VMware. "This takes customer insight and brings it into the business' full workflow for employees to take action on."

SocialCast is one of a number of social collaboration tools on the market, including those from Jive Software and Yammer. But the next evolution of the social tools, some analysts predict, will be integrating external data into the enterprise's internal collaboration platform. This social customer relationship management (social CRM) is already done in contact centers and by players like Lithium. Gartner says that the social CRM market will grow from $850 million in 2011 to an expected $2.1 billion market by the end of this year.

SocialCast and Lithium support the integration of the two systems using each of the company's rest APIs, Young says. To take advantage of the integration, the SocialCast customer must already have a Lithium account. SocialCast, meanwhile, is offering Lithium customers a one-year trial membership for free for up to 99 users. VMware announced the news at the Lithium Network Conference (LiNC) 2012, but the offering will be rolled out in the third quarter.

Also at LiNC, Lithium announced Lithium Responses, which uses analytics tools to identify and prioritize customer interactions for responses. It also introduced enhanced features to allow for marketing on popular social media sites.