Maintaining a social media presence or collaborating online takes a lot of work. It is also very seductive. If you hate being alone, this is the place for you – with a global user base of millions you are sure to find someone to talk to (or listen to) at any moment in time so you never have to be alone. Now take out the social aspects and look at it through a business lens. From a retail perspective, this translates to round the clock access to potential customers (better than late night TV) and for global businesses working with global teams, it translates to virtual workspaces where the productivity potential is endless. The whole premise of offshoring and creating global companies was the power of the 24-hour clock and unlimited access to the world markets. These technologies provide the platform to help businesses leverage the potential for real business gain.
In today’s working world where speed is of the essence and everyone wants it now, leveraging this trend is a business necessity. Virtual communities can be formed very quickly with very specific business objectives. A business need can be addressed on an accelerated time schedule. Want help innovating? Form a specific community around your innovation topic and your pool of talent potential is endless. Want to hear what your customers or your employees really think? Form a virtual focus group and plug into people’s thoughts. Pick your business “pain” point – sluggish sales, new product launches, new market penetration, new regulatory requirements, market metrics, changing business climate, poor employee morale, high turnover, and the list goes on and on and on…. And then there is the data collection. For better or worse, when we committed to connecting virtually, we committed to data sharing. As everything done virtually leaves a data trail, many businesses are working hard to use the data for their business advantage.
But this new media world is also the world of entrepreneurs. As is the history in the technology sector, everyone works to produce the next big thing. This is a group with a pretty high-risk tolerance historically, so it should surprise no one that many new businesses are sprouting up to support, develop and enhance these platforms. Take a look at Scott Kirsner’s article on the types of businesses developing around Twitter (http://is.gd/3Xug5). The same thing has happened with Microsoft’s SharePoint (MOSS) – I have many friends making their living building business solutions on this platform (http://www.jornata.com/ and http://www.sympraxisconsulting.com/default.aspx ). These folks are literally writing the books (and blogs) on the best business uses for these tools. They are pushing the functional limits for their own business gains.