At todays' LeWeb 3, Marc Canter asked a panel drawn from Google, Netvibes, Plum and the European Energy Forum whether we're ready for radical change in the context of bringing the social to software. In his pre-session blog post, Marc said:
The paradigm of social networking works great for dating, having fun and discovering new and old friends. But we’re going to see more and more the notion of social media, social graph and social networking APIs into email, maps, Intranets, legacy systems and basically - all forms of software.
During the on stage conversation, there was much talk about OpenID and the fatigue many people are experiencing as they are required to sign in to different social computing services. Afterwards, I asked Marc about how he sees this playing out in the enterprise. His view is that one of SAP, Oracle or Microsoft will figure this out and provide standards based access that will solve many of the current problems associated with traversing systems.
I hope Marc's right. Truth be told this will be a hard fought battle on many fronts. The enterprise apps vendors have spent years ring fencing their users and are still endeavoring to build lock-in. As Judith Hurwitz noted last week in regard to SAPs NetWeaver story:
I think that because that the strategy and platform assumes that customers will be willing to adopt a single vendor platform that everything in their enterprise will flow through. To its credit, SAP does expect that third party applications and environments can be integrated through well defined interfaces. These outside resources would be integrated through the repository. However, will a customer want to give a single vendor that much power?
Apart from arguments about just how much account control one or other vendor truly has (that's definitely for another day) the vendor community is faced with a real problem. How will they provide controlled and secure access across systems at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that open source community systems are most likely to solve that sooner rather than later in the consumer space? Will adoption of Microsoft Windows Live Spaces make a significant difference - assuming of course Microsoft wakes up to the opportunity?
We live in interesting times.