Should professional social networks make a play for the enterprise?

Should professional social networks make a play for the enterprise?

Summary: Social software has been making its way into the enterprise for a while, but usually from vendors that are experts at enterprise needs. Now it appears that professional social networks on the Internet will make an attempt at the space. What will this mean given that they already have a large percentage of your workers using their services externally today, yet little practical enterprise experience?

SHARE:

Recently Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, indicated that the professional social networking giant was seriously considering expanding their services into internal capabilities such as enterprise social networking. As the world's biggest and most mature business-focused social network, the move potentially makes a lot of sense, particularly as they are now a public company looking for important new sources of revenue.

LinkedIn's signature advantage, unlike many new Enterprise 2.0 entrants, is that it has an enormous base of existing business users it can enlist as foot soldiers to penetrate the enterprise. Just by adding some features to the current service it could, for example, provide enterprise microblogging to its existing users which could be kept private within the company if desired.

By making LinkedIn useful for internal collaboration, social intranets, and more, it could suddenly become much more relevant to those looking at inexpensive approaches that also will have a high likelihood of adoption (which, in a way, is already baked in with LinkedIn's large existing user base.) Enterprise social networking software still comes at a real premium compared to the free social networks of the Web, so the revenue model could be very compelling to the company.

In my research, I find that there's strong correlation with the speed and success of internal adoption of social media and the level of investment made. Given this, LinkedIn could potentially make a play through the front door, or it could just come in the back door until enterprises need the administration, security, and policy control features once they become aware of a significant volume of work happening in LinkedIn's new internal social channels. Conversely, LinkedIn could just go to businesses and show them this data, since they can provide the social analytics to potential customers whose workers are already having more success that the company was aware of.

The back door approach to adoption works too. Enabling enterprise-wide social conversations virally and for free was very successful for Yammer (now at 3 million plus users), but they had to start out from scratch with their user base. With LinkedIn sitting on top of 100 million users, about a quarter of which are active every month, and it could have a much faster and easier road to success.

However, with LinkedIn, I suspect the story won't be quite this simple. In fact, I think at first many organizations are going to wonder if it's the right move to let LinkedIn become a core capability for supporting the way they communicate together. There is also the issue of data storage, reliability, and protection of privacy and intellectual property. Never mind the now-classic enterprise social media worries around risk, control, and trust. In fact, once LinkedIn is handling important and sensitive company information, it will run headfirst into all the implementation and governance issues surrounding enterprise social software.

But all of this isn't likely to prevent LinkedIn from trying to flip its large base of users into paying customers on the enterprise-side. One of the reasons is that LinkedIn finally has real competition. There are now a number of professional social networks that have entered the scene including XING, Viadeo, and BranchOut. Those these are either vertical or geographically specific, the user base they are building is in many cases climbing into the same order of magnitude as LinkedIn (see visual above.) They are no doubt considering the same move for financial and growth reasons.

What Do Businesses Need In a Social Network?

So, given that I believe LinkedIn is likely to do this, what would make a move into enterprise social networking successful for them or their competition? Several key things I believe:

  1. Provide the right social features. This means the basic ones as well as the capabilities often missing in the enterprise. Microblogging is a given, but e-mail integration would be huge, as would connection to or support for simultaneous document editing. The ability to use it as a form of intranet would complete the core capabilities that most business users of social networks need. Reconciling enterprise identity with social identity should also be a checklist feature to ensure they are fully reconciled with IT.
  2. Have a strong security story. Security is the biggest worry of enterprises when it comes to social tools. Be very clear what the features are (and have them) to detect improper worker usage, inadvertent data exposure, detecting malware, and so on. Be abundantly clear on how keeping corporate information private works and why competitors could not get access to other firms' internal information via the network.
  3. Use the intrinsic strengths of being an external social network. This means at least two things: 1) Make it easy to securely connect and collaborate across the full social business spectrum including workers, trading partners, and customers and 2) Take good advantage of the knowledge of the full social graph that workers have beyond their organization to derive insight including expertise location, hiring, innovation opportunities, and more. Not doing this means being just another plain vanilla social collaboration tool with either little differentiation or the ability to compete with today's sophisticated and mature Enterprise 2.0 offerings. In my opinion, it's this deep connectedness with a large, existing user base that makes professional social networks such an interesting internal social network play.
  4. Aim at the right part of the market. Frankly, for a variety of reasons including control, hosting, and vendor experience with enterprises, many large companies aren't going to look at professional social networks to provide social media capabilities, at least for a while. But the market for small and medium sized businesses is ripe for these features. However the ability to drive high levels of adoption (if borne out), might in fact make the enterprise-facing features of PSNs interesting fairly quickly to larger firms.

Personally, I think LinkedIn, BranchOut, and their other large competitors have genuine disruptive potential to make their move while the Enterprise 2.0 market is still somewhat immature. Making a strong enough play, targeted at the right audience, could genuinely change the enterprise social networking space. On the other hand, the hundreds of existing products in the space have made it a pretty crowded market. It will refreshing to see an entirely new take enterprise social software emerge in the space. The question is whether organizations will see the value. I'd put this on the list of potentially significant social business trends to watch for now.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

7 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • businesses are social in nature, just like people

    Its only a matter of time before they converge.
    Would love to hear from anyone that wants to lead this disruption and "not sell sugar water for the rest of their life".
    -Seth Gold
    954-871-9551
    Seth Gold
    • RE: Should professional social networks make a play for the enterprise?

      Everything is social nowadays...<br>------------<br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/">Film-izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/" title="Sinema izle">Sinema izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/" title="Sinema Filmi izle">Sinema Filmi izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/eniyi/vizyondaki-filmler">Vizyondaki Filmler</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/tag/hd-film-izle">hd film-izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/tag/online-film-izle">online film-izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/recep-ivedik-3-izle-full.html">Recep ivedik 3 izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/avatar-izle-turkce-dublaj.html">Avatar izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/kolpacino-2-izle-full-hd-sansursuz.html">kolpacino 2 izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/incir-receli-izle.html">incir receli izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/ask-tesadufleri-sever-izle.html">Ask Tesadufleri Sever izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/hizli-ve-ofkeli-5-izle-full-altyazili-turkce-dublaj-degildir.html">HIZLI ve Ofkeli 5 izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/transformers-3-izle-full.html">Transformers 3 izle</a><br><a href="http://www.sinemafilmizle.com/kung-fu-panda-2-izle-turkce-film-izle.html">Kung Fu Panda 2 izle</a>
      sinemafilmizle
  • We build our own, and it stinks.

    The need is there, especially in large corporations, but even smaller companies will appreciate it. We are hungry for it, anything is better than what our underworked IT guys are cobbling together.
    tomogden
    • Not-invented-here is a long standing problem in IT

      @tomogden I'm sorry to hear that, though I've seen some government agencies build their own social networks because of the years long procurement process. I'd generally not expect a high performance organization to try to reinvent the wheel when there are so many lessons learned to make about how social networks work best. Good luck however!
      dionhinchcliffe
  • We build our own, and it rocks.

    It would be bizarre not to capitalise on all those users. But with LinkedIns track record of fugly interfaces and awkward experience it could potentially be a nail in the coffin.

    The 'Enterprise 2.0' solution we use is called Podio (<a href="http://www.podio.com">www.podio.com</a>). It allowed us to build our own intranet online and collab with everyone in the company. It was dead simple really, pains me to think of the days when we struggled with Sharepoint and other such 'software'.
    paulo_t
  • RE: Should professional social networks make a play for the enterprise?

    <p>Coach handbags and purses at the <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? with new designs make them have the most outstanding and eye-catching advantage among other brands goods.<a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? handbags You can not just save your cash but also your time inside a convenient way to obtain the exact same bags product and do not be concerned the shippment of one's products.In terms of the quality and superior design that make more and more customers are satisfied to <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>????.Welcome!Come by for dinner soon and check out the wine list for yourself. We are always here to help with selection. Cheers for the successful of <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet store"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet store</strong></h1></a>????.</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach purses"><h1><strong>coach purses</strong></h1></a>???? have to be considered the most wanted designer purses in the world. Known around the globe for their excellent craftsmanship and trendy styles, these purses are worshiped by millions.The <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? has been in business for many years. You can log in to find more information about its products and services.The Coach bag is from the latest release of Coach Bags. Its crisp, scribble material, leather handle, perfectly complements the relaxed shape of this stylish pouch. All the items of <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach outlet online"><h1><strong>coach outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? Store fit all of your essentials and more.If you want to buy quality Coach products at lower prices, visiting <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? online can be your best decision.</p>

    <p>Where there are women, there are bags. Where there are bags, there are <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach bags"><h1><strong>coach bags</strong></h1></a>????. Coach products are the direction indicator of the latest fashion and trend.Coach is a renowned leather brand throughout the world. <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach handbags"><h1><strong>coach handbags</strong></h1></a>???? are famous for their special designs and beautiful shapes.Bright colors, exquisite workmanship, durable material and up-to-date style all lead to the great fame of the goods in <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>????.Do not miss the opportunity to get the Coach Outlet Coupons.<a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach outlet store"><h1><strong>coach outlet store</strong></h1></a>???? spends more efforts on building their own brand.</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? has become necessary in everyday life of women seeking fashion and simple designs simple and elegant to look at very affordable and practical.If you desire to go to <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>????, but have no idea in which to go, you can research online. It is no doubt that there is drastically information and details about it for the reference.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is one of the most popular and successful leather brands in the U.S. market.Coach stands for the most-admired innovative style and conventions in American fashion.That <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory store online"><h1><strong>coach factory store online</strong></h1></a>???? annually consultation on item pattern to 5,000 high-end consumers, investing of as a good deal as much more than three million bucks a year.</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? can provide the coach exactly the same is expected in a retail store. It can help you find bags of various colors, shapes and designs, which prove once again that the coach is actually a selection for the housekeeper.Would you like to meet more friends, or go with the times? If yes, <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is opening welcome doors to you.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? is famous for the discounts it offers. Latest coach purses and sunglasses can be purchased at discounted rates from this coach outlet store.Coach Bags in the <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory store online"><h1><strong>coach factory store online</strong></h1></a>???? feature a front red stripe with a red Coach logo on op art print sateen and other details, such as the double soft red straps, which allow for carrying conveniently and comfortably.</p>

    <p>It's wonderful to find out it does not slip in your signature at the bottom of the case and the appearance of brass accents from <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach outlet online"><h1><strong>coach outlet online</strong></h1></a>????, Because women who can look stylish this summer.When I first went to the web site <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>????,I wasn't sure what to expect.Then,once I was scrolling through the handbags I saw this and I was fond of it!Once I received it, it matched my cell phone and no matter what I put in it, it never hurt my shoulder.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? offers you the modern and very comfortable coach bags. Since many women often do not know things and are daily buses to challenge their handbags handbag, also comprehensive.The reputation of the coach outlet with the good old bag, was actually the original inspiration came from a softball glove, Cheap replica Coach Handbags features soft.</p>

    <p>There certainly are a amount of methods to acquire affordable coach products at <a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>????,it could possibly the most effective options.the most vital cause may be the reality that you simply can purchase genuine coach products at there.Attention! <a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? is offering new products at favorable prices for August. Brighter colors, finer looks and newer designs, all bring you a whole new summer.<a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? are loved by many people, when you walk in the street, you could see many people take coach styles.<a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory"><h1><strong>coach factory</strong></h1></a>???? outlet has new coach laptop bags in listing. No matter which style do you want, we can provide it for you.</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is one of the most popular and successful leather brands in the U.S. market.Coach stands for the most-admired innovative style and conventions in American fashion.The reputation of the coach outlet with the good old bag, was actually the original inspiration came from a softball glove, Cheap replica Coach Handbags features soft.Today, following half a century, mentor leather-bases <a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? continues to be the delicate craft of leather-based master is accountable for,Sweet and petite, Coach purse is a gorgeous standout. Featuring the most fashionable styles and the best upscale quality, Coach goods at the <a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory store"><h1><strong>coach factory store</strong></h1></a>???? are definitely your choice.</p>
    erica55
  • RE: Should professional social networks make a play for the enterprise?

    <p>Of couse, the products are best quality. Just 5-7 days delivery! Our <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.org" title="louis vuitton online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton online</strong></h1></a>???? shop provide worldwide free shipping. So what are you waiting for? Take a Louis Vuitton home now!We are glad you come to join in our <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.org" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>???? online store, because the winter is upcoming now, Louis Vuitton released many new handbags to feedback our customers.The <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.org" title="louis vuitton outlet online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is so colorful.Its products, both for the female and the male, touch upon all walks of life.The online <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.org" title="louis vuitton sale"><h1><strong>louis vuitton sale</strong></h1></a>???? has the latest styles of cheap LV handbags for you to find your favorite Louis Vuitton products more conveniently.</p><p>LV bags in the <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.net" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>???? are a feminine update on an urban classic. With plenty of room for all of your essentials this covetable carryall will take you through the weekend in style.Looking for a <a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.net" title="louis vuitton outlet online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? and don't know where they are? The easiest way is to Google it. That simple. You should at least get a hit on the actual online designer store and you can search geographically for the one nearest to you.<a href="http://www.ilouisvuittonoutlet.net" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>???? is really so well-liked and also treasured during the human beings to be a number of high-end, they may realize that the bring up to date might impact their very own laurels signature in the fashion world as well as talk about in your predisposition in their enthusiasts.</p><p>Just come to visit once the <a href="http://www.louisvuittonoutletonlinee.com" title="louis vuitton online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton online</strong></h1></a>????, you will fall in love with its fancy bags, purses, sunglasses, shoes and so on.LV sells its products through standalone boutiques,lease departments in high-end department stores, and through the <a href="http://www.louisvuittonoutletonlinee.com" title="louis vuitton outlet online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet online</strong></h1></a>????.<a href="http://www.louisvuittonoutletonlinee.com" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>????,welcome to buy urban louis vuitton on our online shop.discount price is our special offer, durability and high quality is our promise.</p><p>Don't feel upset, there will be a great conversion to this kind of situation because there are a large number of <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-outletsales.com" title="louis vuitton sale"><h1><strong>louis vuitton sale</strong></h1></a>???? now!In the web times, even if you are a noble person on <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-outletsales.com" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>????, or to real action to prove himself, has been integrated into a new era.If in a foreign country to join the twitter, it is best to join army of micro-Bo;Your energy is regained and your eyes are refreshed, right? You can avoid the boredom if you buy the <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-outletsales.com" title="louis vuitton outlet sale"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet sale</strong></h1></a>????.Last Sunday my friends Sally brought a new purse to show us. She told us she just bought it from an outlet of <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-outletsales.com" title="louis vuitton sale"><h1><strong>louis vuitton sale</strong></h1></a>????, which provides high quality LV goods at low prices.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-bagsoutlets.com" title="louis vuitton bags outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton bags outlet</strong></h1></a>???? are amazing and you will rest assured by proudly owning a bed that you will find yourself envied by simply your colleagues.<a href="http://www.louisvuitton-bagsoutlets.com" title="louis vuitton bags"><h1><strong>louis vuitton bags</strong></h1></a>???? I bought a few days ago looks almost the same as the one at online presentation. Also,service attitude from the seller is very good and delivery speed and logistics pretty fast.As we show below, <a href="http://www.louisvuitton-bagsoutlets.com" title="louis vuitton outlet"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet</strong></h1></a>???? have a number of Louis Vuitton Earrings, louis vuitton replica handbags, in different styles for your selection.<a href="http://www.louisvuitton-bagsoutlets.com" title="louis vuitton outlet online"><h1><strong>louis vuitton outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? will not solely store and build pertaining to your entire necessities,and makes it possible for you to create a typical appearance.Lots of women like these bags.</p>
    erica55