Following on from my last piece about Twitter, I also spoke with Craig Cmehil, another Irregular and SAPper. For some weeks, Craig has been running a side project to develop a Twitteresque alternative for use inside the firewall. Wordpress's Prologue might make a decent alternative but Craig's work started before that came along.
As a SAPper, Craig knows that security and scalability matter. He also knows that while Twitter has great utility, it could be so much more. The project is still at the 'small pilot' phase which means that small numbers of people are trying it out to see where it has application. So what does it do other than provide a river of instant messages:
- People can create groups and private channels so that where necessary, conversations can be kept confidential.
- Conversations are threaded
- There are group tag clouds.
- You can embed images that include their URL but not video because that can consume a lot of network bandwidth.
- There is a 5,000 character limit to allow users to include a reasonable amount of detail in their conversations.
One interesting aspect of Craig's work has been the discovery that Twitterific is not Twitter specific. This means that once he sorts out the API to mimic Twitter behavior, then users will be able to take advantage of the Twitterific client. It won't have all the functionality Craig has built but all the Twitter-like functions.
Craig doesn't know whether the project will move out of its current conceptual stage to become something that gets SAP developer funding but he does expect that the concepts behind it will become part of something much more significant.
Enterprise customers may not yet be ready for this style of application but those who are using it are deriving value in much the same way as Jevon Macdonald, another Irregular, is predicting benefit when he says:
- Forces reduction of hierarchy enforcing rules
- I say this because the more you constrain and layer access controls on “tweets” the less value they have overall, but more significantly, it directly reduces the benefit to the creator
- Personal Brand development - highly personal platform
- Crises discovery and management capability
- Increased awareness of ongoing work
- Interactions between individuals can strengthen their social-network ties to further inform other tools (like search, group forming, etc)
- Potential to outperform other tools in the rate of adoption (low barrier to start using the tool)
To be clear, Jevon also points up some potential negative consequences but at the moment, the upsides seem to have the upper hand.
I'm aware that other developer organizations are working on similar applications designed to meet enterprise needs inside the firewall. It will be interesting to see how these initiatives work their way out into the wider world. One thing is a safe bet. If apps like this take hold then enterprise management is in for a big surprise.