Watch out, there's a Dopplr about

If you've not heard of Matt Biddulph, CTO of Dopplr then I'm guessing you will. He is building out a socially aware travel application that is currently in beta.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

If you've not heard of Matt Biddulph, CTO of Dopplr then I'm guessing you will. He is building out a socially aware travel application that is currently in beta. To quote the shpiel:

Dopplr is a new service for people who travel more than five times a year and have friends that do as well. The more people in your life use Dopplr, the more interesting the world gets.

Like all the best social computing applications, Dopplr grew out of a need. In Matt's case, he was traveling constantly and wanted to hook up with friends and colleagues along the way. Typically, that means coordinating plans via email, a cumbersome and time consuming process. Using Dopplr, users can easily see who among their invited friends is sharing the same travel location, adding notes to contextualize the trip.

I've been using the service for a couple of months and find it to be very useful. I know for example that on an upcoming trip I will be able to hook up with a business colleague I've not seen in months. I like that Matt's thought long and hard about privacy. Dopplr leaves me with choice as to whom I invite to share trips while suggesting those who I might know and with whom I might be prepared to share trip information. What might this have to do with enterprise? Here's my 'off the top of my head' take following conversations with both Matt and Redmonk analyst James Governor who coincidentally share the same London office:

  • Business travel can be a gruesome experience. The potential to share with friends brings a new dimension to the experience that makes life easier.
  • Sharing travel information among colleagues can make meet up planning much easier while cutting down on email exchanges. Dopplr has compiled a list of the Dopplr 100. This is a list of global companies that Dopplr believes could benefit from aggregating the people who travel on behalf of those organizations. IBM'er Luis Suarez is using it, noting that: "Through the IBM (account) I connected with a bunch of folks who I didn't know were using Dopplr when they connected with me." Luis has two Dopplr identities, one for sharing among colleagues and one for friends. This is entirely consistent with the way people organize their lives.

  • Shared information about location specific topics could reduce travel cost. For example, knowing a better but cheaper hotel is a good worth sharing.

  • The potential to mashup with services like Kayak could allow self service travel planning. This is something I recently experienced while organizing a trip. I was able to let the travel agent know the best flight combinations at the best prices while pointing them to my Dopplr to work out appropriate travel dates.

  • Data aggregation about the most common kinds of travel could be used to leverage corporate travel contracts among multiple participants. Dopplr knows a lot about travel patterns - way more than any single travel agent or corporate travel planner. This knowledge is incredibly valuable because it can be used to disintermediate and drive down cost while improving individual value.

Although in private beta if you ask Matt, he'll let you in on the goodies. This is one social computing application that should be a no brainer for the enterprise.

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