I recently signed up for CampFire, the Web-based chat site and was once again impressed by the impact social networking software will have on the enterprise. No longer do companies need to make significant investment in in-house collaboration software. Outsourced services can run $10 a month and offer much of the functionality that one would expect from a service that runs tens of thousands of dollars. Trialing the software is even cheaper. It's free.
Campfire may provide group chat, but there are dozens of other similar applications that grab user interest. For some examples, just check out our story on the top Firefox extensions for collaboration. There are also plenty of standalone apps as well. The love of online tools and most recently spreadsheets, whether from Google or SocialText, may not replace desktop spreadsheets, but offer another inexpensive approach to group collaboration. The same holds true for Wikis, such as from JotSpot and SocialText.
I think it'll be interesting to see the impact these services have on IT. I expect more companies will gain access to tools that normally would only be available to the largest organization. That could result in smaller organizations competing more effectively with large ones. It'll also mean that users will be more apt to avoid IT if we aren't responsible for their needs. Think of the whole PC vs. mainframe phenomenon.
What do you think? Join Preston and I in this Campfire Room and let us know.