Twitter-like Tools for the Enterprise - InformationWeek

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6/25/2009
02:29 PM
Ben Kepes
Ben Kepes
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Twitter-like Tools for the Enterprise

What is the difference between micro-blogging and private IM chat rooms? Simplicity - micro blogging is much easier to use and understand. Things get los t easily in forum threads - they''re too bulky and too hard to wade through. Micro blogging tends to be more public and optional and allows for easier discoverability. Google is great for results, but not for answers. Micro blogging is near real time - it''s important to differentiate that from real time which causes disruption.Is 140 characters enough? IBM prefers 250-500 (via their two different internal microblogging apps: BlueTwit and Lotus Connections) but the 140 character limit is important for mobile adoption and usage on phones. Their is a concept of microblogging as a driver of efficiency in communication. Granular messaging promises the reduction of noise to the signal.Internal versus external - internal microblogging allows people to talk about things that they can't talk about externally. It''s potentially a form of catharsis. An interesting metric - on Twitter, 80% of traffic is social. On internal microblogging platforms, 80% is professional. That changes the way we need to think about these tools. There''s a need to separate the wheat from the chaff - how to balance the big talkers from the important talkers? One of the panellists reported that he stopped using twitter because the loudest and most verbose people used it; while more innovative/quiet people didn't use it - quality vs quantity.Much discussion about getting micro blogging applications installed in enterprise - some users don't have admin rights to put in client applications. Enterprise is cautious of vendors that encourage or facilitate end users using back door ways of getting the application on their machines.Interesting - the audience was asked who would pay for microblogging - near unanimous was the feeling that these tools are not worth paying for. It was also pointed out that microblogging without being integrated into bigger solution is not so compelling - much of the value of Twitter comes from the third party integrations, not from the tool itself - the vendors selling micro blogging solutions into enterprise don''t have that ecosystem built up - so there is possibly less value in their offering.Most corporations are not looking for a completely separate tool but are looking to integrate it into their current platforms- for this reason more integrated plays may find it easier to gain traction. Ross Mayfield raised a good suggestion- in order to test the utility of a micro blogging tool, ask a new user to ask a question of the communtiy and witness the rapid and relevant results that eventuate- surely this is another reason to utilise an external tool rather than a specific and siloed tool within the firewall?There was a little discussion, fuelled by Mark Dowds around productivity- sadly he was something of a lone voice, the rest of the crowd was sufficiently high on the kool-aide to ignore the practicalities and realities around workplaces- where people are busy and the number one driver is productivity.Never being one to shy of a fight I asked the question just how much room there is for another platform- every single vendor seems to be claiming that they''re a platform player- of course the question went down like a lead balloon- sometimes the real world is less than palatable....

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