Social Network Software for Enterprise

Ed Cone has a great article on CIO Insight called Social Networks at Work Promise Bottom-Line Results. Its really got me thinking about the adoption of social network software by companies of all sizes.

Interesting synergy that I found this. I’m consulting companies about social software right now plus I’m checking out Microsoft’s Sharepoint. Wachovia is deploying it for all its employees. Its a Windows Server addon that creates a social network for business Intranets. Its got calendars, file sharing, blogs, etc. Nothing new to the web but rather new to the insides of corporations.

This has me wondering, what enterprise level social software is out there? I’m especially interested in stuff built to run with LAMP. (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) I think Drupal + CiviCRM could be one. But I’m not sure that combo has the interface that a big business wants. It would be great for small businesses, non-profits, and other organizations. I wonder what the largest user base of any Drupal install is?

I must mention activeCollab and Basecamp. Two very useable pieces of social software that are mainly hosted solutions. While I’m at it I gota mention Salesforce. TONS of businesses are using that now. Plus it appears to have a strong API and dev community. But these have a more CRM functionality. But they could act as online social hangouts. Ruby reminds me that there is a lot of software that can be used in social ways even though it wasn’t intended to.

Right now I’m checking out a bunch of other apps like Dolphin, Grabgrass, Drupal, etc. These aren’t necessarily right for big businesses but who knows… Have any other suggestions? Big or small?

When I was a AVID editor’s assistant in LA I went to a event where the famous film editor Gabriella Cristiani was speaking. She won an Oscar in 1988 for editing the Bertolucci film The Last Emperor. She spoke about the art of editing film. Not once did she mention software. But mentioned she gave lessons in editing. At the end I asked her which editing software she used. She told me it didn’t really matter which application I used. Good editing was good editing no matter which tool you used. That advice has stuck with me. At the time I was convinced I had to be a master AVID editor to make a living.

I think this good advice about tools can be applied to social software. We can build communities and leverage the advantages of the strong connections built no matter what software tools we use. True some practical considerations come into play and effect our choices. But I plan on remembering what Ms. Cristiani said when I advise people about what to choose. Each group has unique needs. I plan on serving them in unique ways each time. We’ll build what is best for the group at that time.

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