Some of you may have seen the movie "The Social Network". Regardless of what you think about the movie, there is no doubt that facebook has changed the way we stay in touch with friends and family. Or that it has reduced "distance" between people. I can go skiing with my kids, take a video using my iPhone on the slopes, and share it with friends and family on the other side of the globe, all this while I am on the ski lift, from my phone.
In fact, one of the amazing things about facebook is that it's reached critical mass, so you can almost be certain people you know or met recently can be looked up and friended on facebook. When facebook reached 500 million profiles, here's the picture Mark Zuckerberg posted on his blog.
So what does Social networking have to do with business ? The key lesson here is that the utility of enterprise business networking Technology lies in the profile. First, make sure that when you implement a Social Technology to reduce organizational distance in your business, everyone gets an account easily or has a profile. Encourage them to fill it in, even a simple picture helps connect people. Sandbox or pilots with just a few people don't work, because, just like the phone network, business networking Technology is only useful when it's ubiquitous. It's the power of the network. Make sure your Social business Technology provider helps you with strategies and services to help create vibrant communities of practice, and increase participation.
Secondly, ensure that you have selected the right enterprise business network Technology for the profile. It's a critical asset, and unlike public Social networking, just the Social profile is not enough. Businesses already have profile information in various enterprise systems. IT stores basic directory information in LDAP or Active Directory. But there's richer information about people in your systems of record. For example, your Learning Management System stores rich information on competencies, certifications and training. There's a difference between this information and Social or crowd-sourced information in the profile. It's certified, or "official". For example, does a programmer have a certification in Java programming. Does a project manager have PMP certification ? Is a Product manager SCRUM certified ?
This combination of the Social and certified profile separates the "casual Social application" from the real enterprise business networking platforms.
At Saba, we call this the unified people profile, and it's at the core of our enterprise business networking solution, Saba People Cloud :
Selecting the right scalable Social business platform with security is important, because this enterprise business network will become a critical "system of record" over time. In effect, this will become your "organizational memory". Many popular enterprise Social apps or what are sometimes called Social business apps are just that - applications. Not platforms. The profile needs to be architected to capture organizational memory.
So the next time you go on Facebook and wish you could have an intranet experience at work that lets you communicate with equivalent ease and mobility, check out Saba People Cloud.