The Microblogging world just got more complicated with Yammer winning the Pop Idol/American Idol style knock out ‘TechCrunch 50” competition, in which “52 of the best startups launched their products in front of the industry's most influential venture capitalists, corporations, fellow entrepreneurs, and press”, along with a substantial audience and live feeds of sessions on ustream.tv for those not in the building.
The media event, which ended Wednesday night in San Francisco, has ironically been very high profile on Twitter, the platform famous for originating ‘ambient intimacy’, Other microblogging platforms with traction amongst users include Plurk, Pownce, indenti.ca and Jaiku, with more options popping up practically daily.
Short video snippets are being incorporated into some of the client software that are used to access the above services. (Ping.fm, Thwirl and Friendfeed are ways of accessing your accounts on Twitter and the other services). A further layer of web services such as Tweetscan, Quotably, Summize (now owned by Twitter), Twemes, Hashtags and many more provide an ecosphere of tools to manipulate user generated archived content.
Separately on Tuesday the ESME ('Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment') team presented their community created 'enterprise environment in a process context' at SAP’s TechEd in Las Vegas. ESME is intended to bring Twitter (or Yammer) style communication to the enterprise, running with SAP's 'Netweaver' SOA ('service-oriented application') platform.
ESME is interesting because it focuses on real world application of Twitter style functionality in the SAP ecosphere. From early feedback the Vegas SAP TEchEd crowd didn’t go wild over this innovative project unlike Yammer’s reception in San Francisco, the reality is most internal enterprise people don’t understand the utility of this type of communication yet.
Yammer has a business model that allows rapid uptake of their service, which is anchored around urls. So if your company is arracanis.com for example those with @arracanis.com email addresses can join Yammer. If the owners of arracanis.com want any centralized control over this social network talking about their business they need to pay Yammer…
It’s a solid plan – the question is whether there is a large enough audience for yet another service (there are at least a dozen other enterprise Twitter clones in the works I know about) . The TechCrunch effect propelled 10k people and 2k organizations to signed up on launch day. Whether they will have traction larger enterprises is open to debate.
Meanwhile Twitter has the huge competitive advantage of a massive worldwide installed base of users, names printed on business cards and archived in address books, and a loyal following.
The direct messaging back channel shouldn’t be underestimated either: a complex ecosystem of overt (public) and covert (private) messaging takes place amongst contacts. It’s not trivial to switch to a new platform so substantially greater utility would be needed to shift a substantial body of loyal users to a new paradigm.
The bigger challenge – completely understood by early business Twitter adopters such as @zappos - is making a standardized micro blogging platform as intuitive to use as email or the telephone for business users.
For smaller ad hoc business uptake Twitter, Yammer and other services will fill a gap, but there is still a need for a secure internal service that will carry sensitive communication. The ESME’s of the world are working towards that, and it’s a communication and training battle…