Firms, individuals have 'same' networking needs

Corporates and consumers share similar social networking goals, says market player, where Google OpenSocial can address business concerns about networking sites.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--One company hopes Google's OpenSocial platform will help bridge the rift between social networking sites and enterprises.

Benjamin Mestrallet, CEO and founder of eXo Platform, said the social networking needs of enterprises are "the same" as that of consumers--connecting colleagues and presenting an easy way for them to keep track of what other teammates and co-workers are doing in the organization.

However, social networking's place within enterprises has traditionally met with resistance because of concerns regarding security breaches and loss of productivity, said Mestrallet.

He was speaking at a press conference to announce a one-day technical workshop in Singapore for developers on Google's OpenSocial platform. The workshop is organized by the search giant and Singaporean Web developer community, e27.

The eXo Platform offers tools to companies intending to build social networking sites within their enterprises. Mestrallet said companies can use the tools on their servers and add higher security restrictions on apps and modules, to help overcome misgivings companies may have about such sites.

But the final piece in the social networking puzzle is interoperability with the "outside, consumer-oriented" Web. With much time spent on social networking sites, workers could marry their "outside" lives and contacts with work, by publishing relevant information outside and pulling social information into their work sites.

This is why eXo is supporting Google's OpenSocial platform, Mestrallet said.

Launched some six months ago, OpenSocial's set of APIs (application programming interface) allows developers to create apps for any social network that supports the platform. Its partners hope counterparts from other social networking sites such as Friendster, hi5 and orkut will help pull users into a greater aggregated pool.

Jeff Roberto, director of marketing and PR at Friendster, said there is "generally no overlap in visitors" between each social networking site. Each tends to dominate its own geographical region, such as Facebook in the United States and the United Kingdom and Friendster in Asia, he said.

OpenSocial is therefore a way for developers to expose their apps across many sites--and the users in each geography, Roberto noted. This has implications for developers' revenues since the success of most apps is based on how many users are using them, he said.

Roberto expects "thousands of new apps from OpenSocial" to be ported into use for Friendster, adding that this will ultimately lead to more users signing on because "users are attracted to a good, rich experience online".

Patrick Chanezon, developer advocate at Google, estimated the pool of aggregated users on OpenSocial apps stood at 375 million. This figure is projected to go up to 500 million by year's end, thanks to fast-growing regions such as Asia, he said.

Of Google's developer workshop, DevFest, Chanezon said: "It's an incredibly exciting time to be a Web developer in Singapore and Malaysia, with so many powerful APIs, open distribution platforms and development tools becoming available for easy and often free use."

Google is holding an OpenSocial gadget contest till January next year, covering Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam in the region. Developers in each country will be awarded four prizes.

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