Thoughts on Enterprise Adoption of Twitter

reflectionMichael Hickins had an interesting post, Making A LinkedIn For Twitter, which posits that LinkedIn blazed the trail for Facebook, from an enterprise adoption perspective. Enterprise adoption is a constant preoccupation over here, and “enterprise Twitter” is an exceedingly relevant topic.

Michael’s is an interesting idea, so here are some mental doodles on enterprise adoption of microblogging.

From the 50,000 foot view, LinkedIn did introduce the concept of business social networking to the enterprise audience.  LinkedIn is dedicated to executive business networking, and its tools and culture create an ideal gateway for executives to experience Web 2.0 and social networking. But there are other things going on that don’t point to a “LinkedIn for Twitter.”

Let’s abstract up a layer. “Social networks” like LinkedIn, Facebook et al (Orkut, Bebo) are profile-centric sites that enable members to share information about themselves, including their friends or connections and other content.  LinkedIn has a business wrapper around this, but the core activity is roughly the same.  If you look at adoption in a more granular way, it came down to individuals.  Each exec’s pattern was some variation of, joining via invitations from already-members, no-no-no-…-no-yes.  LinkedIn’s business context helped, but pre-existing relationships were the trigger.

Twitter is a different animal entirely.  Yes, it’s very social and, yes, it’s a network, but it’s not a social network like the others.  It imposes less process on its members.  What might a “LinkedIn for Twitter” look like?  It would probably involve limiting Twitter significantly.  BTW, Yammer’s Adam Pisoni and David Sacks told me last week that the most often requested feature by enterprises that “claim their Yammer domain” was to remove features! ,^)  Here are a few examples:

  • Retail promotions twitter
  • Beautician network twitter
  • Dentist equipment twitter

These would have pre-packaged topics and processes.  They define their audiences.  I don’t expect this to happen because you can achieve much the same with a hashtag.  You would need to have a more defined set of limitations.

Enterprise twitter folks like Yammer are growing like weeds, and they are blazing the trail.  Their adoption pattern is similar: no-no-.. yes.  Case studies for Twitter and E20 twitter vendors will do the rest.  The last reason that we won’t see a LinkedIn for Twitter is that enterprise software vendors are bolting on microblogging, sucking up some of the oxygen in the room.  It will be everywhere, tomorrow.

Michael astutely hits on an enterprise Achilles heel: underestimating the potential of “out there.”  This will take care of itself: I can’t remember where I heard it, but “No matter who you are, there are always more smart people outside than inside.”  There always have been, only now they aren’t invisible like before.

The Knowledge Economy’s emergent organization is s revolutionary idea for structured Industrial Economy organizations; it’s their anathema.  They’ll get there.

What do you think?

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