Social Networking Services In The Enterprise Bringing Out Critics
from the it's-a-feature... dept
I've written about my doubts concerning social networking services in the past. I was part of a company that tried to build just such a solution in the 90s, and we discovered that people who have valuable rolodexes realize there's value in keeping those rolodexes private. They're not comfortable with handing them out. At the same time, the people who most need to use such a service are those with the fewest connections. In other words, social networking services are often a system for subsidizing the poor networking skills of the unconnected with the strong networking skills of the well connected. The people who are the most valuable to the system only end up with more spam from random people trying to reach them. Kevin Werbach has noticed that LinkedIn hasn't been able to get him in touch with someone he couldn't have reached otherwise, and in the case of Spoke Software, pointed out useless links that wasted people's time, rather than helping them. Now, others are beginning to wonder if there really is value in social networking services for the enterprise. If anything, it sounds like these tools are a feature of a CRM-type offering, but not products by themselves. My own experiences with these products hasn't been very useful. I've passed on one LinkedIn request that went through me - but it was across such a long chain of such loosely connected people to be useless (and, my friend who I passed it on to later complained about the annoyance). I just made one successful connection via LinkedIn, but it could just as easily have been done by email (and, actually, was initiated by email, but the person I sent it to suggested I use LinkedIn to demonstrate how it works). Products like Spoke that scrape through your email box and make their own connections are even worse. As Kevin Werbach notes, knowing someone is very different sending them a random email once. Also, knowing someone is quite different from "endorsing" someone. I've received LinkedIn requests from people I barely know or trust - who I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable connecting to some others. Furthermore, there are huge privacy concerns with scraping-based systems like Spoke. Already I've heard stories of people receiving misdirected (very) confidential information from someone trying to make a Spoke contact. Also, sales people I've spoken to get a horrified look on their face when I describe Spoke. One senior sales exec told me if his company forced it on him, he'd start doing all of his important sales email via a private email account to keep the snooping away.