Apparently, the latest buzzword is yes – “socialprise.” That is social, as in we are humans and we interact to get work done. Seems intuitive, but it is not the first thing that comes to mind when social is used in business.
That may be a moot point as the technology to map workplace interactions and relationships is “now becoming part of standard enterprise computing systems” according to a NY Times piece MySpace Mind-Set Finally Shows Up at the Office – the ultimate mashup. Socialprise was coined by Insideview
But I think we need to make a careful distinction between “social networking” and “social network or organizational network analysis” (SNA/ONA) especially for business. Social networking platforms for business like VisiblePath (now part of Hoover’s) used by sales groups and law firms is useful in mining who knows who, what work was done with what client as people move through their normal trajectories. Insideview’s twist is to marry up search data or intelligence with social data. It certainly enhances the potential for connections if one looks around the existing network.
Social network analysis or organizational network analysis, the easier term for business leaders to accept, can be used very strategically to ferret out connections that might not naturally occur, or if they did would take years to emerge, particularly in networks outside of the organization. Call it the Outsideview.
This is not network analysis for business as usual. Instead think of mapping the intellectual property landscape to find the key contributors in a narrow field – the needle in the haystack. Boston Consulting Group did an intellectual property map for The Myelin Repair Foundation, reported in Mapping the Crowd a Business Week story. The challenge for MRF was to identify the few research scientists with the greatest number of relevant patents in order to accelerate research. The result was a network visualization allowing managers to see both opportunities and key centers or nodes of research they might not have found for years.
Touch Graph software was most likely used by BCG as they openly acknowledge creating solutions for clients – Interpublic Group -advertising, Newforth – M&A, and the British Natural History Museum – biological networks.
As social networking tools become a standard feature of enterprise computing systems for day to day business, they will lose their competitive advantage like all other tools. However to understand why a particular product or service may not have launched as well as expected, or to capitalize on macro network opportunities for technical and science initiatives, a standard platform may not be the optimal approach. Unique ONA applications will still have their place in the socialprise.
~Victoria G. Axelrod