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Archive for April 24th, 2008

The Future of Social Networks at Graphing Social Patterns

Written by Sean Ammirati / March 3, 2008 8:03 PM / 4 Comments


Charlene Li gave the opening keynote at today’s Graphing Social Patterns conference. The keynote was titled “The Future of Social Networks” and Charlene clarified that specifically she was focused on five to ten years out in her presentation. Her basic thesis is that in the future, ‘social networks will be like air.’ In other words, it will be ubiquitous as you navigate across the web and sites will feel inadequate (like you can’t breathe) if a user’s social network isn’t part of the experience.

The majority of Charlene’s talk then focused on how each component of a social network will evolve given this vision:

 

  • Profiles
  • Relationships
  • Activities
  • Business Models

 

Profiles: A Universal Identity

Like most of us, Charlene has literally dozens of identities online (see slide below).

MultipleIdentitiesGSP

Moving forward she’d like to see a universal identity. Her specific proposal centers on either email and/or mobile phones, since this would be an identity she controls. Thankfully, Charlene also anticipates a federated approach (such as OpenID.) Also, she anticipates a few major players will probably serve as major federation focus points. We have already seen this happen begin to happen with both AOL and Yahoo! supporting OpenID.

Charlene also talked about the “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web,” a document created by a number of thought leaders in the social web: Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble & Michael Arrington. The document states:

We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
    • their own profile data
    • the list of people they are connected to
    • the activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.

 

I imagine there will be more conversation on this in the afternoon panel Dan Farber is moderating on Data Portability.

Relationships: A Single Social Graph

Over the next few years, Charlene pointed out that a unified social graph will develop. She showed her current social graph as it exists inside Facebook, and then pointed out what it was missing: colleagues, parents, extended family, school parents, neighbors (see slide below). I think this is something we all realize intuitively – so the overriding point is that our real social graph is far more complex.

FBGraphMissingGSP

New ‘Entrants’ Will Be Portals

I actually found this one of the more interesting points from Charlene’s presentation. She proposed that the a number of ‘new entrants’ will emerge, except that they won’t be startups at all. Instead, she predicts that a number of the major portals (Google, Microsoft Live, Yahoo!, and AOL) will actually fill the the relationship mapping gap. She pointed to 4 reasons why they are natural entrants:

 

  1. Millions of Regular Users
  2. Search & Deep Content
  3. Ad & Content Networks
  4. Relationship Maps

 

Activities: Social Context for Activities

Going back to ‘social networks being like air’, not surprisingly Charlene projects that social context will be important for most online activities. As an example of how this might happen, she used shopping. She talked about Amazon integrating with Facebook (or any other repository of social graph info) such that they could highlight book reviews from her friends. Charlene also pointed out that any portal could easily incorporate social data into their site. She used Yahoo! as an example saying they could:

 

  1. Search based on what my friends find relevant
  2. Elevate stories tagged by my friends — anywhere (maybe multiple social graphs web 2.0 & shopping)
  3. Compare daily portfolio performance to friends
  4. In terms of advertising, which of my friends owns a Focus & what do they think of it?

 

Business Models: Social Influence Defines Marketing Value

When talking about business models, her basic point was that we have yet to properly value networks based on their social value. She pointed to Marian Salzman’s (of JWT) concept of personal CPMs. The basic idea being that an individual’s authority on specific topics plus their network’s interest and authority on the topic, results in a value of reaching that user. If this is true then “social networks will have to compete to have the best experience for high influence people.”

Conclusion

Based on the vision she laid out, Charlene ended with a map of how open she anticipated these open platforms evolving.

OpenPlaformsGSP

To realize this vision of ubiquitous social networks, Charlene pointed out 2 things that must happen:

 

  1. We need the technology to evolve, which she wasn’t that worried about
  2. We need to increase trust, which she challenged the industry to think about

 

You can view all of Charlene’s Slides here.

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Enterprise 2.0 To Become a $4.6 Billion Industry By 2013

Written by Sarah Perez / April 20, 2008 9:01 PM / 25 Comments


A new report released today by Forrester Research is predicting that enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies is going to increase dramatically over the next five years. This increase will include more spending on social networking tools, mashups, and RSS, with the end result being a global enterprise market of $4.6 billion by the year 2013.

This change is not without its challenges. Although there is money to be made in the industry by vendors, Web 2.0 tools by their very nature are defined by commoditization; as is much of the new social media industry, a topic we touched on briefly here, when discussing how content has become a commodity.

For vendors specifically, there are 3 main challenges to becoming successful in this new industry, including:

  1. I.T. shops being wary of what they perceive as “consumer-grade” technology
  2. Ad-supported web tools generally have “free” as the starting point
  3. Web 2.0 tools will have to now compete in a space currently dominated by legacy enterprise software investments

What is Enterprise Web 2.0?

Most technologists segment the Web 2.0 market between “consumer” Web 2.0 technologies and “business” Web 2.0 technologies. So what does Enterprise 2.0 include then?

Well, what it doesn’t include is consumer services like Blogger, Facebook, Netvibes, and Twitter, says Forrester. These types of services are aimed at consumers and are often supported by ads, so they do not qualify as Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Instead, collaboration and productivity tools based on the concepts of web 2.0, but designed for the enterprise worker will count as being Enterprise 2.0. In addition, for-pay services, like those from BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, Awareness, NewsGator Technologies, and Six Apart will factor in.

Enterprise marketing tools have also expanded to include Web 2.0 technologies. For example, money spent on the creation and syndication of a Facebook app or a web site/social network widget could be considered Enterprise 2.0. However, pure ad spending dollars, including those spent on consumer Web 2.0 sites, will not count as Enterprise 2.0.

Getting Past the I.T. Gatekeeper

One of the main challenges of getting Web 2.0 into the enterprise will be getting past the gatekeepers of traditional I.T. Businesses have been showing interest in these new technologies, but, ironically, the interest comes from departments outside of I.T. Instead, it’s the marketing department, R&D, and corporate communications pushing for the adoption of more Web 2.0-like tools.

Unfortunately, as often is the case, the business owners themselves don’t have the knowledge or expertise to make technology purchasing decisions for their company. They rely on I.T. to do so – a department that currently spends 70% of their budget maintaining past investments.

Despite the absolute mission-critical nature of I.T. in today’s business, the department is often provided with slim budgets, which tends to only allow for maintaining current infrastructure, not experimenting with new, unproven technologies.

To make matters worse, I.T. tends to view Web 2.0 tools as being insecure at best, or, at worst, a security threat to the business. They also don’t trust what they perceive to be “consumer-grade” technologies, which they don’t believe have the power to scale to the size that an enterprise demands.

In addition, I.T. departments currently work with a host of legacy applications. The new tools, in order to compete with these, will have to be able to integrate with existing technology, at least for the time being, in order to be fully effective.

Finally, given the tight budgets, there is still a chance that even if a particular tool does meet all the requirements to get in the door at a particular company, I.T. or other company personnel utilizing the service may try to exploit the free version of the service if the price point for the “enterprise” version gets to be too high. They may also choose to look for a free, open source alternative.

Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

How Web 2.0 Will Reach $4.6 Billion

All that being said, the Web 2.0 market, as  small as it is now, is, in fact, growing. In 2008, firms with 1000 employees or more will spend $764 million on Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Over the next five years, that expenditure will grow at a compound annual rate of 43%.

The top spending category will be social networking tools. In 2008, for example, companies will spend $258 million on tools like those from Awareness, Communispace, and Jive Software. After social networking, the next-largest category is RSS, followed by blogs and wikis, and then mashups.

The vendors expected to do the best in this new marketplace will be those that bundle their offerings, offering the complete package of tools to the businesses they serve.

However, newer, “pure” Web 2.0 companies hoping to capitalize on this trend will still have to fight with traditional I.T. software for a foothold, specifically fighting with the likes of Microsoft and IBM. Many I.T. shops will choose to stick with their existing software from these large, well-known vendors, especially now that both are integrating Web 2.0 into their offerings.

Microsoft’s SharePoint, for example, now includes wikis, blogs, and RSS technologies in their collaboration suite. IBM offers social networking and mashup tools via their Lotus Connections and Lotus Mashups products and SAP Business Suite includes social networking and widgets.

What this means is that much of the Web 2.0 tool kit will simply “fade into the fabric of enterprise collaboration suites,” says Forrester. By 2013, few buyers will seek out and purchase Web 2.0 tools specifically. Web 2.0 will become a feature, not a product.

Enterprise 2.0 Spending

Other Trends

Other trends will also have an impact on this new marketplace, including the following:

External Spending Will Beat Internal Spending: External Web 2.0 expenditure will surpass internal expenditure in 2009, and, by 2013, will dwarf internal spending by a billion dollars. Internally, companies will spend money on internal social networking, blogs, wikis, and RSS; externally, the spending patterns will be very similar. Social networking tools that provide customer interaction, allowing customers the ability to create profiles, join discussion boards, and read company blogs, for example, will receive more investment and development over the next five years.

Europe & Asia Pacific Markets Grow: Europe and Asia Pacific will become more substantial markets in 2009. Fewer European companies have embraced Web 2.0 tools, leaving much room for growth. Asia Pacific will also grow in 2009.

Web 2.0 Graduates from “Kids’ Stuff”:  Right now, it’s people between the ages of 12 and 17 that are the more avid consumers of social computing technology, with one-third of them acting as content creators. Meanwhile, only 7% of those 51-61 do the same. However, this is another trend that is going to change over the next few years. By 2011, Forrester believes that users of Web 2.0 tools will mirror users of the web at large.

Retirement of Baby Boomers: As with many things, it takes the passing of the older generation from executive status into retirement before a true shift can occur. Over the next three years, millions of baby boomers will retire and the younger workers brought in to fill the void will not only want, but will expect similar tools in the office as those they use at home in their personal lives.

What It All Means

For vendors wanting to play in the Enterprise 2.0 space, there are a few key takeaways to be learned from this research. For one, they can help ensure their success in this niche by selling across deployment types. That is, plan to grow beyond just selling to either the internal or external market.

Another option is to segment the enterprise marketplace by industry and then by company size. Some industries are more customer-focused than others when it comes to the external market, so developing customized solutions for a particular industry could be a key to success. For internal tools, focusing efforts on deploying enterprise grade tools that include things like integration or security will help sell products to larger customers. Other  levels of service can be designed specifically for the SMBs, featuring simple, self-provisioning products to help cut down on costs.

Finally, vendors looking to grow should consider making a name for themselves in the Europe or Asia Pacific markets, where the opportunity comes from the expected increased investment rates for Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 in those geographic regions.

However, the most valuable aspect of this change for vendors is the knowledge they obtain about how to run a successful SaaS business – something that will help propel them into the next decade and beyond and, ultimately, will provide more value than any single Web 2.0 offering alone ever will.

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Real People Don’t Have Time for Social Media

Written by Sarah Perez / April 16, 2008 2:00 PM / 50 Comments


Let’s be honest here: we’re all a bunch of social media addicts. We’re junkies. Whether it’s a new Twitter app, a new Facebook feature, or a new social anything service, we’re all over it. But we may not be the norm. The truth is, being involved in social media takes time, something that most people don’t have a lot of. So how can regular folk get involved with social media? And how much time does it really take?

The Time It Takes To Be Involved

It was this post on a blog called Museum 2.0 that caught our eye.

[Side Note: Museum 2.0 is a blog whose niche is exploring the technologies and philosophies of web 2.0 and then applying them to museums, yes, like brick-and-mortar museums. The site’s owner, Nina Simon, works at the Tech Museum of Innovation as curator of the new Tech Virtual Museum Workshop and previously, worked at the Electric Sheep Company and International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Fascinating read, by the way.]

The post was “How Much Time Does Web 2.0 Take?” and it looks at all the different types of activities and levels of participation on a sliding scale depending on how much time you have to invest.

The point of the scale is to show regular folk, albeit those in a particular industry, how they can fit getting involved with social media into their day-to-day routine.

Let’s call it a “real person” scale.

Although she was specifically writing for the museum crowd, there is some good information here that we can all benefit from. To summarize, here are her findings:

1-5 Hours per Week = Participant

A participant is at the lower end of the scale. Participants can set up MySpace or Facebook pages and groups, run a Twitter feed, comment on blogs, and/or upload images to a site like flickr. She notes that the most time-consuming aspect of Twitter is not the broadcasting aspect but finding followers who will read your content.

5-10 Hours per Week = Content Provider

A content provider can start a blog or a podcast. Both activities require slightly more advanced technical skills and a larger time commitment. Bloggers should aim for a minimum of at least one post per week, but two or three would be better, she says. Podcasts can be as infrequent as once per month.

10-20 Hours per Week = Community Director

A community director is much more involved with social media. Here, her advice is more narrowly aimed towards museum staff, but still the overall suggestions hold up. Community directors  can get involved in community web sites, work comment boards, and create projects in Second Life. Basically this category involves getting involved in larger scale activities, but, once launched and running, they don’t require full-time management.

Time Spent on Social Media, image via Museum 2.0

How Much Time Do You Spend on Social Media?

For a comparison between what time commitments are recommended for “regular” folk versus how much time our community spends on social media, I took a completely unscientific Twitter poll where I asked that question.

Let’s see what you responded with to the question: “How much time do you spend on social media per day?”

A Couple Hours per Day:

A Bit More Involved:

There Should Be a Support Group for This:

What Can We Learn From This?

Looking at all the various web-based activities and projects, what we can tell is that not everyone is going to have the time to be as heavily involved in social media and we are.

Even those of us at the lower end of the range, offering up only a few hours per day, are still heavily involved with social media when we’re placed on this “real person” scale that Nina provides.

If we’re going to recommend a service or activity to a friend whose alarm goes off at 6 AM and doesn’t return home from the office until 6 PM, then we need to respect that their “spare” time is precious. Whatever new app or service we’re trying to push on them should have real value.

Where do you rate on this scale? Have you over-committed or under-committed your time?

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