Although I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I’m sure my kids won’t know what a firewall is when they reach the workplace.
Why? firewalls, the enterprise security that maintains security between employees and the public on your intranet are going to be irrelevant –and LinkedIn and other SaaS products are making this happen –one URL at a time. I’ve expanded upon this a bit more in a recent discussion with the WSJ indicating the opportunity for LinkedIn and others.
I’ve been in close contact with LinkedIn over the past year, and recently had lunch with their CEO to discuss their strategy, so I’ve been fully briefed on this platform announcement. Given the downturn in economy, this is a great market for LinkedIn to grow with users, and to offer services and features that reduce developer cost within the enterprise.
These 10 application (sometimes called widgets) are now accessible by LinkedIn users and have collaborative and social features that allow you and your LinkedIn friends to share presentations, favorite books, event calendars, documents and other work related themes (no super poke here). You can collaborate with your colleagues at a company and even beyond with your business contacts, imagine that, getting work done with people that aren’t even your colleagues.
I used to be the enterprise intranet manager at HDS before I started the social media program, and I know that from experience, most intranets are a horrible cobbled together experience, most lacking true social features. We continue to see more SaaS products being offered like SocialText, Zoho, ConnectBeam, and of course SalesForce to allow employees to work and share together, without even having to rely on IT developers to build a new products.
LinkedIn isn’t done with it’s growth, to truly be a major competitor in the intranet market, they need to make their system extensible with other platform players, allow more business applications to be shared on their platform (they hand select developers) and consider some acquisitions in the community platform space or collaboration space. Since they snagged funding before the investment money dried up, they recently have generated $22 million in funding (beyond their existing raised capital, which will enable them to : 1) stand the test of time, 2) get ready to go shopping.
Expect LinkedIn to:
Offer more collaboration between colleagues and connections to happen outside of the firewall where IT doesn’t have control
Provide resources for some IT departments to lean on SaaS environments to further their mission
Launch more business applications request to be developers on LinkedIn’s business platform
Export the top business applications will be then be ported to community platform players
Raised significant capital, thrive in an downturned economy, and get ready to go shopping
I interview Google, developers, and social network platforms to find out their ideology and experience with converting applications to the OpenSocial protocol, and I quickly learned that while the promise is indeed a powerful one, in reality, it will be very difficult to achieve. In some cases, developers tell me that widget code needs to be modified up to 50%.
For clients, you can access the short report on the Forrester site, or you can purchase it on the site. As much as I’d love to share this research to everyone, like you have your products, this is ours, and there are costs associated.
Google’s OpenSocial: Good News For Marketing Widgets But No Silver Bullet Google, along with a congress of more than a dozen social networks, plans to launch OpenSocial, a set of standards that will allow widgets to be built once and run on any Web site compatible with OpenSocial. What’s in it for interactive marketers? The ability to efficiently create engaging branded experiences that reach millions of new communities. However, don’t expect your widgets to universally proliferate, as adoption will vary based upon the demographic and technical characteristics of each online community. Interactive marketers should deploy widgets using OpenSocial standards, yet they should also plan — and budget — for rapid iterations and flexibility.
Google’s OpenSocial Team, IBM’s Lotus Team, KickApps, NewsGator Technologies, Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr, Six Apart’s David Recordon, and Nick O’Neil of SocialTimes.com
If you’re not familiar with OpenSocial, it’s a protocol lead by Google to allow widgets and applications to be portable to any social network or website that part of the alliance. If you’re not familiar read “Explaining OpenSocial to your Executives” to get started, I explain it in pure business terms.
I just asked my twitter network, (and received about 20 responses) about which white label social networks are open social compliant, and received quite a few responses. I frequently use social media tools for research ‘discovery’ to quickly find out a multitude of answers, but of course, it’s no substitute for analysis. I’d guess that I use social media tools for 10-20% of all my research, asking, reading, linking, or leaving comments.
The reason why I limit this list for 2008, as I’m pretty sure it will be most of the industry that adopts this standard
‘White Label’ (you can rebrand them) social networks that have adopted or agreed to offer the OpenSocial Protocol
So why is this significant?
Soon, corporate websites with social networks will start to host popular applications for other websites, this makes the web distributed. Soon, corporate websites will stop being irrelevant. Development time will be reduced, applications can quickly be rehashed and other opportunities that I’ve found will be in the report.
I expect this list to get quite a bit longer by the end of this year, if you know of others, please leave a comment.
(I’ve shifted back to blogging, as some folks were overwhelmed with my tweet updates, this makes more sense rather than a blow-by-blow tweet report)
What is OpenSocial
First, if you don’t know what OpenSocial is read this: Explaining OpenSocial to your Executives. Forrester will be publishing a report on OpenSocial in the near future (I interviewed David and Kevin Marks last night), I’m on point for that, stay tuned.
“The cloud is about getting the computer out fo the way so that we can be more productive” -David Glazer, Google
Web Strategy Summary
You, a web decision maker are probally considering creating widgets to reach distributed communities. The opportunity to build an application once and let it run everywhere is still underway. I recommend you continue to watch this space, put a key developer or agnecy on point to start creating your applications in compliance, but plan on customizing your apps per the unique demographic for each social network.
Raw notes from David’s presentation
David of Glazer of Google’s OpenSocial team shares at Graphing Social. He suggests that novice should read Nicholas Carr’s book “the Big Switch” on social computing, there are parallels between open grid electricity and open web.
It’s fast, easy, open, and everywhere. Move the accidental objects out of the way so we can interact better. People care about other people, not a new idea but the social context, people are the killer app.
This isn’t new
Email, Newspapers, Bookstores, FTP, social used to be called ‘c-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t’
Some problems left to solve
-Fragmented authentication: OpenID is not yet sufficient but a step in the right direction
-Fragmented identity: how many times do we need to add friends?
-Fragmented app development: how many times do we have to build an app?
Step 1: OpenSocial
“If you can build a web app, you can make it social, and reach more than 200 million users”
1) Invent it: Come up with a great idea (app) that you want to do with your friends.
3) I missed the third one
Types of Social Networking
-Classic: Myspace, hi5, bebo, facebook
-Business networking: LinkedIn
-Enterprise Software: Salesforce, oracle:
-Communities (like white Label): Like corporate communities, nings, etc.
A great idea but you’ve got to work at it.
Need to get the following right: Clear mission, Open License, Engaged Community, Real-world use.
Part of why I got this fantastic gig to speak was because of my recent post on How to Successfully moderate a panel, I’ll be following many of those best practices as I listed out. One of the suggestions I made is to get audience feedback to gauge what success would look like.
So, if you were me, what questions would you ask the panel? Leave a comment below, I’m listening and will credit you if the question is asked.
(Video: Mario Sundar, LinkedIn’s community evangelist interviews Adam Nash, Sr. Director of Product, via official blog)
LinkedIn recently briefed us for their announcement today, (I’m making a few updates as news releases) here’s my take:
Summary: What you need to know
Already a business networking utility with minor community features, LinkedIn launches improved homepage with aggregated news and customized features. In addition, LinkedIn’s launching an API (so third party developers can create applications) starting with BusinessWeek’s “social bookmarks” feature. Expect more business valued applications to surface, increasing the value of LinkedIn, I see this as a success as this becomes less of a part-time utility to more of a full-time business platform.
There are three major homepage feature improvements include
1. Company News: Five related articles will be displayed
2. Customizable modules: Three options to choose from People, Jobs, and Answers
3. Network Updates: A newsfeed that shares your contacts changes
API yields platform for 3rd party development
The most important story (for some reason the other press members aren’t focusing in on it as much is that combining this with LinkedIn’s API so select third party developers can build business apps for the LinkedIn network can yield a business destination that we can start using on a daily basis.
But there’s an opportunity for LinkedIn to become a perma-tab in our web experience, take for example the partnership with Businessweek, much like a nod to the social ads that Facebook has deployed (but this time opt-in only) users of LinkedIn that are visiting Businessweek can choose to share a story with their network on LinkedIn. A sort of ‘delicious for your network’. LinkedIn is discussing the API opportunities from their official blog (and video)
Utility to Platform
LinkedIn already boasts some community features, such as LinkedIn answers, network like sharing tools, all lead by the official LinkedIn blog. I expect to see calendar, event, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and profile matching type of widgets and applications on LinkedIn’s community platform.
Application that could be developed
Shared bookmarks with my business network (Delicious integration)
Additional business media ties (Reuters, BBC, NYT, Forbes, Nasdaq, NYSE)
Shared calender and event tracker with my business network (Upcoming.org integration)
Collaboration of office docs (Open Office, Google docs integration)
Presentation sharing (slideshare integration)
Map mashups: find people with similiar jobs in your area
Social recommendation engines for jobs (SimplyHired integration)
SecondLife profile and community sharing, esp for business events (take it to the next level, the sky is the limit!)
Challenges No platform or product is perfect, here’s a few challenges I see along the way
The API will take some time for developers to get used to.
The sub set of Businessweek readers and LinkedIn users that will share the bookmark is low, expect adoption for this feature to be low, but a good start for what’s to come.
With Google’s Open Social API underway (as well as Facebook) developers are going to have to build multiple APIs, in the long run this will cause confusion.
Many users get news information about their company and industry from other sources, I don’t expect the LinkedIn homepage to be a daily visit –expect the applications to be the lead in first for real utility.
Innovation not fully unleasged as only select partners are allowed to develop on LinkedIn’s platform, an ‘open market’ type of development process could bring many iterations of products, let the users decide which apps should be used.
Facebook: While business folks are connecting within Facebook, (such as within my web strategy group of 4000 professionals) there’s been no notable business apps that have been deployed. Expect developers for LinkedIn to also deploy on Facebook and other OpenSocial partners. Facebook is a “lifestyle” network, that includes both personal and work –much like our next generation of workers.
A business platform for business people. More applications of actual utility (unlike the entertainment and media apps in Facebook and MySpace). Actual productivity from a connected workforce. Increase in attention (time on site) and viral spread of new users that will join. Anyone trying to reach business people should consider deploying in LinkedIn’s community and platform. If things go according to plan, this is a win for LinkedIn.
(Similar to the video above, this one focuses on the APIs with Mario and Lucian Beebe Director of Product Management)
There’s so many people talking at the developer, strategist, and marketing level, I’m going to take it up for another audience, feel free to repurpose this content any way you want.
You: A web decision maker
As a Web Strategist, you are someone who is partially or wholly responsible for the long-term direction of your website, or the website of your client(s). You have to explain the announcement to your boss (or you are the boss), I’m going to help.
[Using portable applications, companies can now efficiently extend their website experience to existing communities on popular social networks]
Social Network: An existing network or community where people of similar interest share. MySpace, LinkedIn, and Hi5 are examples.
Mini-application, app, widget: These applications, created by third party developers or your company can sit on top of these existing thriving communities of connected people.
Platform, Container, Social Network: Where the mini-applications ‘sit’ on top of and interact
API: The common code shared among platforms and developers of mini-applications
Situation: Nov 1st the “OpenSocial” is announced
Decisions are made on communities where trusted members share as a result, savvy companies go where their market is.
We’ve hit a milestone on how the web is becoming amorphous, data is about to be shared easily and quickly in a fluid way. Google and several other social networks in the alliance launched OpenSocial on Nov 1st. Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook are not part of the announcement (yet).
Four months ago, Facebook allowed third party companies to build mini-applications in their site, this is similar in concept, but now includes many other players.
‘Platform’ or ‘Container’ where your mini-application can extend to: MySpace, Bebo, SixApart, Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle.
What is Open Social?
Translation: Social Networks, and other websites (we can call them platforms or containers) can let mini-websites (applications or widgets) to be shared and interact with existing online communities (social networks, social graphs, communities).
Example: A company that sells a variety of blenders from their website can now create a mini-application that can be shared on any of the social networks that have agreed to participate in OpenSocial. The blender-related application will interact with each of these communities, and could benefit from features of users sharing, rating, and reccomending blenders to their friends. The blender application could reach new audiences that will interact with it, extending your reach.
Important Concept: Distributed
Web Marketing no longer is limited to your corporate site. Let go of the concept of ‘driving traffic to your website’ as a sole measurement of success. The web, it’s message, and your battles are now fought on the open and distributed web. Trusted decisions between prospects and customers are made on these social communities and networks, savvy executives need to go there.
Efficient development: Since there’s standardization in the code use (APIs) If you develop an application for OpenSocial, it should be easily re-used on all the social networks that are particiating. This greatly reduced development time, you no longer need a ‘myspace strategy’ or ‘bebo strategy’.
Harness existing communities: Since these applications will be plugged into existing communities, the need to ‘build an audience’ isn’t as crucial, as you can leverage the communities where they already exist. Why build if you can easily join.
Open standards help long term: It appear that the standards and development languages are commonly known and not proprietary so it reduced the chance of vendor lock in. Having a common code (API) across all networks makes movement easier, reducing development and re-configuring in the long term. One should always be cautious, as no system is perfect.
Your existing applications become social: Now, your standalone applications can now be shared with communities. If you’ve already spend resources on creating interactive marketing, large libraries, or other projects, consider how they can be re purposed on these websites, be efficient with your resources.
Future brings social to your website: The trend clearly nods towards the direction I forsee, that social networking features (friends and connections) will be brought to the static corporate website. Soon, there will be customers, prospects and employees networked on your own corporate website. We’re not there yet, but start planning on how that will look.
Unproven: We’re still at the start of this movement, there’s no reason to jump in as the bugs have not been identified nor corrected.
Open data opens risks: It’s not fully clear how data will be shared among the multiple platforms. By giving them access to your applications, there is risk in exposing login information, and other sensitive information. The same applies to user data, the risks are not fully known
Inconsistencies may emerge: Just because there is a common set of code (APIs) doesn’t mean all of the applications will behave across each of the platforms. There may be inconsistency as no user shares the same set of friends (social graph) on each network.
Cultural differences: Social Networks are adopted and vary by culture. From LinkedIn’s business network, to Orkut’s Brazilian users no two networks are the same. Expecting an application to work seamlessly for all applications is foolish, expect to research each community before customization.
Future authority not known: Although lead by Google, this alliances appears to be a conglomerate of many different companies involved, it’s not clear who the governing body will be, from a single group, a representative, or even Google.
[Although we're at the unproven starting point, the opportunity is promising, companies wanting to extend their online presence should consider the distributed web (OpenSocial) into their 2008 web strategy planning]
1) Wait and watch: Unless you’re already have successful widgets deployed on Facebook, wait a bit, no need to jump in, let the alpha teams build and break.
2) Host internal discussion: In the meantime, have a brown bag meeting with your development team and web strategy leaders to discuss how existing applications could be repurposed, and how your future roadmaps will consider deploying.
3) Develop Strategy: Understand that this is a new sandbox and if you decide to venture, it should be experimental, and flexibility is needed. Be sure to bake measurement into the start, so you can gauge and benchmark your progress.
4) Educate: Return to this Web Strategy blog, I’ve started a new tag called OpenSocial where you can filter all posts on this topic, I’ll be posting helpful information going forward.
I’ve worked hard to clearly and succinctly explain the announcement, if you’re a client of Forrester, and wish to talk more, please schedule and inquiry, I’m at your service to help define your strategy.