When Cloud Computing and Social Software Merge

I recently read an article about IBM offering portal for clients with Domino Connections and social functionality. The P2P gains have been tremendous. This is exactly the finding that IDC has had while studying the IAMCP ecosystem. Partners that engage in P2P activity are 20% more prosperous. I have been speaking on this topic since mid 2008.

A lot of people are writing about social media usage in a B2B context. The community sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn are great for one-on-one networking. Groups can be effective in establishing thought leadership around specific themes. Twitter can be great again for thought leadership when used by established influencers and to promote brands that are already strong. All of these strategies are hub and spoke model geared at building and strengthening one-to-one connections between an alpha brand or influencer and a community, but the future is not hub and spoke… it is a mesh. What I would question is the level of P2P interaction that these strategies promote.

If we look at B2B communities like PartnerPedia and PartnerPoint we see two things. With PartnerPedia the hook is in offering a digitized work flow for partnering and post partnering collaboration. With PartnerPoint there is a huge effort on part of the administrator to offer services and facilitate P2P activity. I believe that both are on the right track. The problem with PartnerPedia is that it is a closed proprietary community. A PartnerPedia can never compete with a Google on cloud computing, a Facebook on social software and Microsoft/IBM on collaboration tools. The role of an ecosystem like PartnerPedia is exactly what PartnerPoint is offering… services and facilitation. The problem with PartnerPoint is that is stuck in the discussion forum age and doesn’t offer an infrastructure to partner and execute in a mesh configuration. Ecosystems should use market leading cloud platforms for a wider range of collaboration capabilities and for higher degree of interoperability and connectivity to internal systems.

Just offering the infrastructure for collaboration is not enough. You need the social software to provide that social glue and ability for people form social bonds. Social bonds reduce barriers to communication, which increases P2P activity and productivity. Imagine that as with PartnerPedia and LinkedIn we create professional profiles for ourselves and our companies. Now imagine that the platform had the intelligence to match needs and interests an automatically broker optimal introductions. Imagine that when we navigate discussion forums and we mouse-over a person, with who’s trail of thought we agree, we see a tag cloud, which is a summary of their profile and all the user generated content that they have produced. We can automate and induce/encourage social interaction with technology, but we also need ‘social analysts’ to serve as a ‘licensee of trust’ and a social broker.

We are also talking about Service Orientated Architectures (SOA). How do we build mashups of information… customized dashboards. How do we inject provide access to our back end systems in a secure fashion, essentially integrating our business with the ecosystem cloud. How do we build whole supply chains within the cloud fused with social glue? Securing these next generation ecosystems calls for a next generation claims based authentication and access management architecture.

One interesting question is what role can and will Open Source Software (OSS) play in this? Also how mobile will the networks be? Will these ecosystems be open to all or exclusive to companies that partner with a brand like UPS or belong to a frequent flyer program like Delta’s Sky Miles? Will we see brands build strategic alliances by integration their ecosystems?

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