Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Social Network

Social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace are now more popular than personal e-mail, finds a report.

Business is not generally busienss because it is advanced or well trained. Lets be honest about how firms consume IT. When generally Gold Partners and other firms decide to use an IT technology it means its already long established in the consumer market. If you want to see the future don't look to business, look to the consumer market, look to how poorer, younger and most women use technology over the older, more educated and wealthier males who frankly have only vested interest in preventing change.

I have been deeply disturbed as my career in IT has progressed in how the top IT experts in the UK are almost blind to technologies that are emerging, and how they push technologies that don't work to the point of utter disaster.

For example consumers have turned away from online email sites to social networks. Why? Because email is terrible, social networks sites are far better ways to communicate and share information.

For example, my hotmail account is so flooded with with unread messages its long since stopped being of any use. Also think about how poor the UI of any email service, even Outlook is. They are just list of messages. And with these lists of message generally employees are able to cause massive amounts of damage to the IP of a firm, distributing different copies of key documents that float around, siloing contacts and data in massive inboxes that soon fill up, ccing and responding to all until everyone has too many emails to do anything. If you have a job today and never want to do any real work the easiest way is to just read all your email every day.

Social Networks are the way to go and every IT department should be looking at either making use of LinkedIn of Facebook or using SharePoint MySites as an internal social network. Social Networks are better at sharing information, and developing communities of expertise and skill, and insuring reuse of information.

Sadly in its current version MySites with SharePoint is pretty primitive. Microsoft knows that Social Networks are the future, but its moved forward in starts and fits. The good thing for Microsoft is that no company is really moving a Social Network tool beyond just document collaboration and blogging.

If you want to see the key new technologies they are MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Ning and other social clustering and "group think" tools. But when will businesses get the point? Just like the Internet and blogging before them companies have the story of social networks backwards. Right now as Facebook finally is you employees best site for finding advice from past contacts and experts many firms are finally BANNING Facebook.

I imagine it will take a few years before some firm like Microsoft takes the lead and shows how social networking can enhance IP. For IT firms that really care about business, maybe 1% of IT firms, I would suggest trying to make a point to your business stake holders that community is what makes your company have value.
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