Wednesday, 30th July 2008
Tim Buckley Owen
I know we seem to have spent a lot of time on corporate social networking lately – but all the signs are that it’s rapidly becoming an idea whose time is approaching, even if it hasn’t actually arrived. Outsell has been looking at it in one of its recent webinars, and one of the most advanced social networking services for business – LinkedIn – has just announced a strategic alliance with one of the key corporate information sources, the New York Times.
There’s been a steady build-up of interest in the topic over the last couple of months, and this has been reflected on LiveWire. We’ve looked at recent reports from Outsell http://www.vivavip.com/go/e6950 and Gartner http://www.vivavip.com/go/e8925 and a survey for LexisNexis http://www.vivavip.com/go/e9347. LinkedIn keeps cropping up too, including news of integration with OneSource http://www.vivavip.com/go/e7715 plus a significant capital injection http://www.vivavip.com/go/e7444 to finance its current rapid growth.
Under the deal with the New York Times http://digbig.com/4xger and http://blog.linkedin.com/blog/2008/07/the-new-york-ti.html LinkedIn users will have news relevant to their professional industries recommended to them on the Business & Technology pages of NYTimes.com. Times readers will also be able to share and discuss stories with LinkedIn members in their networks.
Ads and eyeballs are what’s behind the move of course. ‘Both NYTimes.com and LinkedIn are leaders in targeting’ says NYT Media Group’s Denise Warren. ‘This relationship expands NYTimes.com's targeting capability and creates a powerful incentive for advertisers to leverage LinkedIn's and NYTimes.com's combined reach of the business community.’
So is it fad or forecast? According to Outsell’s webinar report How Social Networking Supports Workplace Communities http://www.outsellinc.com/store/products/745 ($695) roadblocks certainly still exist.
‘Developing a compelling business case that can demonstrate return on investment for building Web 2.0 networking and virtual applications may be hard to do since it’s still early in the game for businesses to be incorporating these approaches,’ Outsell believes. Its research on knowledge workers in corporations shows the continued predominance of email – 79% in fact – as a delivery method for information.
Nevertheless, the report has some timely advice for information managers. ‘Find a sandbox and play’ suggests author Joanne Lustig, who cites many more networks than just LinkedIn as worthy of exploration.
Build a prototype in the library, find some interested users and experiment with small applications, she continues. Start adding people as well as documents to your content portfolio and create a wiki to encourage knowledge exchange.
Twenty-five years ago, enthusiasts used to tinker with their embryonic email services, each in its separate silo, like this while colleagues looked on sceptically. Then the internet came along and set them free.
It might not be wise to over-sell social networking in your organisation yet. But getting that sandbox does sound like a good idea.
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