Facebook's Business Technology Future - InformationWeek

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10/26/2007
05:32 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Facebook's Business Technology Future

Doubtful that Facebook execs will lose too much sleep over what business IT teams want and need from social networking. But that's where last week's big Facebook hook-ups just might get interesting. Its new partners, Microsoft and Research In Motion, have a deep understanding of how business IT works.

Doubtful that Facebook execs will lose too much sleep over what business IT teams want and need from social networking. But that's where last week's big Facebook hook-ups just might get interesting. Its new partners, Microsoft and Research In Motion, have a deep understanding of how business IT works.Microsoft paid $240 million for a 1.6% sliver of Facebook, in a deal focused on online ad sales. RIM, meanwhile, is offering a version of Facebook customized for BlackBerry devices that will use the device's push e-mail to let users receive Facebook messages and updates automatically, so people can feed two online addictions at once.

Both these two companies are looking to tap Facebook's runaway consumer vibe, but wouldn't it be great if some of it rubs off the other way, and Microsoft and RIM help Facebook be more useful to businesses? A growing segment of businesspeople already use social networking sites to nurture connections inside and outside their companies. And IT departments desperately want in on the act -- they're feeling the pressure to provide tools that let people know what projects their colleagues are working on, what skills the company has in-house. At the InformationWeek 500 Conference this fall, two dozen IT execs met in an informal discussion of their wants and worries about Web 2.0 collaboration, and Facebook capabilities kept coming up. But with consumer tools, they worry about security, regulatory compliance, and just plain time wasting.

As Facebook tries to keep up with consumer demands, hopefully its partners can help it figure out the best way to tap the business IT opportunity. (See J. Nicholas Hoover's "What Microsoft Could Do With Facebook.") Any thoughts? Could your company use Facebook-like tools, or are the IT execs I've heard from just chasing a fad?

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