Social networking finding friends in enterprise

Social networking tools are quickly becoming the latest Internet trend to seek an IT-sanctioned home behind the corporate firewall

McAfee says perplexing questions of what to do with social networking tools mirror what happened in companies 10 years ago when they started formulating their Internet strategy. McAfee says the questions now focus on Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, a term he helped coin.

According to McAfee, social networking tools present three core questions to companies: What is the value of these tools? How do we pick the right tools? What is the managerial playbook for deploying these tools and achieving success?

He says a way to help answer those questions is by examining the strength of relationships, or ties, between workers. McAfee lays those ties out in concentric circles with a knowledge worker at the center. The inner circle represents the worker's strong ties, the next circle weak ties, the third potential ties and the fourth the absence of ties.

At each layer, he says, certain social networking tools and benefits can be expected. The "strong" ties circle includes important colleagues and is where wikis can foster collaboration and productivity gains that result in document creation.

The "weak" level ties are made up of users who may have worked together on a project before and provide information that doesn't overlap with the strong ties circle. Tools like Facebook work best here because they let users find out about each other and exploit human networks inherent in those tools, he says.

At the "potential" layer, a user can search for subject matter experts via blogs used to discuss expertise or projects, and at the "none" level the use of prediction market tools can form a collective intelligence by establishing the value of information.

McAfee says the result is powerful because it fosters quick connections and associations that might not ever occur otherwise. And it lets users combine human networks and gather a greater amount of unique information.

"This idea of tie strength seems to be a good foundation for helping companies and managers think through the important question of what are we going to do with 2.0 technologies," McAfee says.

More and more companies are going to be throwing around those questions even though McAfee cautions that while awareness is growing, adoption will lag far behind.

One reason for the increase awareness is that some companies may have the budget to examine new technologies.

"The available budget dollars for innovation in large enterprises is starting to increase again," says Brad Feld, managing director of early-stage venture capital funds Foundry Group and Mobius Venture Capital. Feld is not shy in expressing his belief that enterprise software is still a hot sector for investment.

IT projects that ate up innovation dollars such as e-commerce are complete and that those dollars are free to use in other areas, Feld says. He doesn't think specific social networking tools will fuel innovation spending but that the category in general is ripe for exploration.

"People are playing with consumer-side innovations at home and it is not just IT," Feld says. "So there is pressure to finally deal with the promise of collaboration and cross group communication."

There is a better chance for success because IT has tools to exploit such as browsers, desktop portability, wired and wireless connectivity and broadband access. "And we have had 20 years to make mistakes," he says.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Fontana

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?