Prediction by Charles Armstrong of Trampoline Systems (from January – I just found it thanks to a friend): In 2008 “Many companies will commission pilots of “Facebook for the enterprise”. Most will fail to deliver any value.” He gives two reasons: 1) Consumer networking techniques don’t work for the enterprise, 2) “the pilots will too often be set up without connection to a pressing business problem. This means there will be little urgency around the use of the new tools and little benefit to employees from adopting them.”
I agree. But I would bet that many, including Trampoline Systems, are working on integrations between private enterprise apps and the more “public” consumer platforms. The two types of platforms need each other in order to reach their full potential.
Facebook and LinkedIn are both ‘consumer’ platforms, but they each have very different strengths to contribute to applications for organizations and private networks. Facebook is great for social campaigns and “pushing power to the edges” – using the network of the organization (or cause) to spread messages and collective behavior. This is why so many NGOs are using Facebook.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, isn’t so good for social campaigns – which come across as too much like spam to LinkedIn users, partly because it doesn’t have the right tools. But LinkedIn is infinitely better for using trusted connections for traditional, high-value professional purposes – getting jobs; finding funding; finding, reference checking and landing new employees, experts and prospective partners; getting new intelligence, and gathering influence. Facebook can’t do these because it lacks a decent professional profile database, and it doesn’t have the search tools for finding people 3 degrees out. LinkedIn can almost be used as-is by organizations – if only they knew how and why. Trampoline Systems can obviously add features that can make LinkedIn’s global network a lot more useful, without giving up control over private data.