Saturday, 15 September 2007

Enterprise Scenarios for Integrating Social Network

Luis recently rejoined the Facebook community and commented that he has been asked, "it will be interesting to see what 'best practices' you practice regarding Facebook app adoption. e.g., everything or nothing?"

From an enterprise and enterprise user point of view, this is a really important question.

I don't think Facebook (or any similar services) offer a lot of value on their own to all enterprise users for a couple of reasons:

  • From a social network perspective they aren't representative of the entire workforce for any organisation, so if you want to find someone in your organisation you will still need to look inside; and
  • From an application perspective they don't integrate with all the enterprise systems, applications, databases and other internal business services that enterprise users need.

We know from experience with internal enterprise portals that for people to get real value, they need to use them all the time - i.e. its an everything approach. Facebook and the like are no different.

With this in mind I can see three possible enterprise scenarios that could play out:

  1. A network of integrated social networks, inside and outside the firewall - the normal Web 2.0 glue will bind them together (e.g. RSS and common APIs).
  2. Social "Marketplaces" that do not represent the entire business but have touch points back into the enterprise - they will never be entirely representative and only the people who get real value from them will gravitate to them (and make the effort to use them).
  3. A single external network that represents everyone - for this to work, the network platform would need to replace existing intranet (or at least an organisation's primary intranet).

Of course these options don't completely take into account the other forces that are shaping the future direction of the Internet that might eventually transform our whole concept of inside and outside the firewall (aka Web 3.0), but bear with me as this is a blog post not a dissertation...

Actually, looking over this list again I can see that these options might equally apply to virtual worlds like Second Life in order to make them really useful.

Incidentally, here is a good example of a popular enterprise application, Salesforce, being integrated with Facebook:

"Faceforce Connector for the AppExchangeTM complements traditional CRM data with dynamically updated personal data and photos. The seamless integration pulls critical Facebook profile information into your Salesforce Account, Lead, and Contact records in real time, providing you with an instant 360º view of customers, prospects, and business associates."

Considering my points above, perhaps this should say it will provide a 360º view of customers, prospects, and business associates who are actually in Facebook and using it on a regular basis and who will let you see their private or organisational data. Still, its a smart demonstration of what's now possible and a hint at where we are going.

1 comment:

  1. James -

    I think many people (including me) are trying to figure out how to leverage the Facebook platform as part of an enterprise.

    On one side, many of features of Facebook are in place because people are not connected within an enterprise to communicate. Inside the enterprise, everyone is on the same email system, can access the intranet/portal and pull up a company directory. Facebook delivers that common communication platform

    On the other side, Facebook offers a lot of integration and features that most enterprises do not have on their communication platform.

    Lastly, we need to figure out how these college students are using Facebook because they are becoming employees of the enterprise. Using Facebook, they have a whole different way of communicating.



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