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A Short Tour of 12 Social Platforms: Findings

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Illustration: informationweek.com

Counterparts from Thebrainyard published an interesting guided tour of 12 social platforms, having done their utmost to describe the functionality of each of the platforms. Everyone can take the tour. Here we will try to «capture» the very essence of the functionalities of the platforms.

1. Jive Software is an «annotated social stream» («stream of consciousness» and a flow of your «friends» comments pouring down your «wall»). That is, it is a further development of the «standard» social functionality of Facebook (i.e. maintain profile, comment on, evaluate, share, recommend, etc.) in order to channel the just-passing-time-with-«friends» process into attempts to enhance the business productivity of employees through their immersion in the «annotated social stream».
2. IBM Connections is an additional set of «standard» social functions for IBM’s product lines (Notes, WebSphere portal, Documentum content management, Sametime instant messaging). So, if you already have these products, the easiest way to equip them with a set of «standard» social functions is to install IBM Connections.
3. Socialcast, acquired by VMware, is now becoming not only a set of «standard» social functions for Facebook, but also a set integrated into the platform for VMware’s cloud applications. For those who are interested in this). A description of alternative platforms of cloud applications can be found here.
4. Cisco Quad is a combination of the «standard» social functionality with Cisco unified communications facilities. For those who are interested in this).
5. Yammer is «standard» social functionality incorporated into a platform for microblogging. After all, Twitter is a kind of collaboration platform, too. Besides, there are also profiles, comments, assessments, opportunities to share, recommend, etc. there).
6. Microsoft SharePoint is a social platform that is far behind its competitors given that no third-party social functionality is added to it. In other words, Microsoft SharePoint is a good thing, but it is no independent social platform yet.
7. NewsGator is a set of «standard» social functionality that, if installed over Microsoft SharePoint, turns the latter into a social platform. So, if you already have Microsoft SharePoint, just install NewsGator to get a set of «standard» social functions.
8. Google Plus is Google’s answer to Facebook’s monopoly. In addition to the standard social functionality, you can use Google Apps: Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.
9. Rypple is an attempt to take the «standard» social evaluation functionality to the next level: assessment of the participants and their contributions by various valuation metrics, and higher efficiency of collective work (it is these functions, in particular, that distinguish Witology). But Rypple has been acquired by Salesforce to integrate Rypple’s functionality into Salesforce’s platform to solve problems of human capital management (HCM).
10. The Hub is an adaptation of Socialcast’s platform (see #3), which was carried out by SAS for the needs of a large multinational company (for itself))). In other words, it is an environment in which employees from many remote offices can communicate with each other.
11. Jingle is an adaptation of Socialcast’s platform (see #3) that was carried out by Motley Fool for the needs of a relatively small company (for itself))).
12. ECN of EMC is EMC’s attempt to advance its approach, and its software, in order to transfer to a social business platform. The approach is OK, but there is no platform so far))).
Upon watching this tour, one asks oneself, «Are there platforms whose functionalities go beyond the «standard» set of social functions?»

Alas, there is none. All companies are busy with nearly the same to get nearly the same, namely to ensure communication between their employees. And the above platforms can be used successfully for that purpose. After all, if employees have the opportunity to get together at some venue and commune with each other, the business could probably benefit from this. Apparently, a company will certainly gain greater benefits if there is a specially equipped online platform where the employees communicate on a daily basis.

However, it is extremely naïve to expect that during such communications business problems can be identified and solved on their own. It is also hardly possible that the most creative and productive participants will be spontaneously detected in a haphazard community of hundreds people or that the most innovative ideas will be spontaneously evolutionarily selected and developed.

To bring this into effect, we need (1) other organization of collective activity, not just communication, (2) other working environment (an online platform with other functionalities), (3) other methodology for formulating and solving problems through mass collaboration.

It is futile to even try to use today’s social platforms (like the above-mentioned 12 platforms) to solve specific problems (e.g. idea management and open innovation challenges). Those who try to do this realize pretty soon that they throw money away. The reasons are clear: Idea Management and Open Innovation challenges require other platforms with other functionalities (in Russian).

However, we must admit that none of the features listed here (in Russian) are implemented in most specialized platforms for Innovation Management (common name of two classes of platforms, Idea Management and Open Innovation). To check up on this, you should read Gartner’s report «Who’s Who In Innovation Management Technology» that compares the functionalities of 11 platforms for innovation management: BrainBank, Brightidea, Elguji, Hype Softwaretechnik, Imaginatik, Induct Software, InnoCentive, Inova, Kindling, MindMatters, and Spigit.

In other words, today neither social platforms, nor platforms for innovation management have those seven principal features without which any attempts to solve tasks of idea management and open innovation mean «throwing good money after bad».

Witology is created to change this situation. Perhaps this technology is born before its time: very few people today understand the aforesaid. Anyway, I’m sure that this is the future.

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Sergey Karelov

Соучредитель и CTO Witology