I read this report from GigaOM and it got me thinking about the challenges of trying to create a successful Facebook-like environment in the enterprise.
Challenge #1: Smaller community. Facebook has over 400 million active users. Your company will have thousands. You can assume that only a portion of those will be active contributors, and that within that smaller group, those people will be split into smaller communities of interest. This leads to a trickle of information flow, which isn’t going to keep people coming back. Even within Facebook, I wonder how many users are just playing games, versus having interactions with friends. The Facebook statistics page does not provide this information. This is important because…
Challenge #2: Enterprise apps do not exist as part of the social platform, and there will be a long migration for existing companies before that changes. If anything, the trend today is to put social networking features into the app, rather than building the app within a social networking platform. That’s not a surprise, as what platform would you choose?
Challenge #3: The browser dominates the deployment model. I try not to generalize my personal preferences, but if I am going to interact with something on a regular basis, it needs real estate on my desktop. That’s why I use Seesmic Desktop for Twitter/Facebook messaging. It’s always open. A browser takes up too much real estate, so eventually that page is out of sight, and out of mind. I think a push model is the only way to go to be successful.
Challenge #4: The enterprise does not have a culture of sharing. I don’t know the root cause of this, but in general, I have found that most enterprises only share information when it is required to get a task done. Rather than seeking out interested parties, information owners sit back and wait for information seekers to come to them. This results in a lot of wasted time and effort in finding out those information owners. In general, I think there are way too many barriers that prevent information sharing, whether due to corporate culture, legal and regulatory environments, internal politics, or many other reasons.
So what do we do? You’ll have to read my next post where I will try to ofer some suggestions for addressing each of these.