Waking Up to Web 2.0

Social networking could open the door to a whole new way of doing business

July 11, 2008

2 Min Read
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Despite the best efforts of such companies as EMC and IBM, the business potential of social networking Websites, remains largely untapped, according to a report released yesterday by analyst firm Gartner.

Social networking software holds enormous potential for improving the management of large enterprises,” says Nick Ingelbrecht, Gartner research director. “However, work in this area is still immature, and enterprises should be aware of what is happening in the world of consumer social networking.”

Gartner’s survey of 18 countries and territories found that, out of 4,000 PC and mobile phone users, 38 percent connected to social networking sites via PC, and just 1 percent via mobile phone.

The analyst firm predicts that online social networking will come to be regarded as “the latest expression” of a long-standing pattern of human behavior, involving an increasing range of technologies.

”Social networking has found new forms of expression on the Internet, which has helped to reshape the purpose and protocols of social networking in an online world,” says Julia Lin, Gartner’s project manager of research data and analytics. “How to apply this in a corporate environment will be the next major challenge.”A number of big-name firms have taken a step into Second Life as a way to network, recruit, and even market their products. In 2006, for example, IBM used Second Life to a host a "town hall" meeting in Beijing, and Big Blue makes extensive use of the platform for internal meetings.

Cisco is another vendor throwing its weight behind the technology, opening its own Second Life "islands" and using the platform to host Q&A sessions with its CEO, John Chambers.

EMC has also held virtual job fairs within Second Life, and Sun opened an "in-world" pavilion for its technology a little over 18 months ago, hinting at a shift from physical to virtual networking.

All these efforts, though, are little more than vendors dipping their toes into the waters of social networking. In a few years' time U.S. businesses could be looking at Facebook and MySpace as invaluable business tools, as opposed to a waste of valuable employee time.

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  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Facebook

  • Gartner Inc.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • MySpace

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.0

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