Twitter For the Enterprise


by Tony Kontzer One thing I learned on Day 1 of The Twitter Conference: Twitter has no plans to adapt its platform for the corporate market. It turns out that the financial promise of secure, business-friendly micro-blogging would only get in the way of the altruistic Twitter's larger goals.

"There's still so much to do on the broader consumer-facing product," Twitter's lead developer, Alex Payne, told me. "The founders are interested in enabling a big, global conversation."

It's hard not to admire sticking to one's ideals, but once the VC funds run out, the lack of a revenue-generation plan is going to force Twitter's hands. Nonetheless, for the time being, Twitter is content to let others do the corporate bidding.

And that brings us to the second thing I learned on Day 1 of The Twitter Conference: There's a large community of third-party, social networking software developers that will bring (or, in a couple of cases, are already bringing) Twitter-type tools into the enterprise. I was introduced to a few interesting ones today.

Let's start with CoTweet, a "social CRM" service delivered via the cloud. It enables a company to track Twitter posts about its products, brands and competitors; assign Twitter posts to employees for follow-up; and track Twitter conversations with case management functionality. Sounds like a nice addition to any customer service operation.

Next on the list is Yammer, an enterprise-ready, Twitter-style micro-blogging service that lets a company's employees keep informed of what others are working on via a secure, private network. It also creates a directory where each participating employee's expertise and Yammer history can be accessed. As someone who's written a lot about knowledge management over the years, this sounds like a dynamite research tool, especially for any business in which intellectual property plays an important role.

Both of these services have already proven themselves to be ready for prime time: CoTweet's customer list includes Coca-Cola, Ford, JetBlue Airways, and Starbucks, and Yammer is in use at AMD, Deloitte and Nationwide Insurance, among others.

Then there's the third company that was brought to my attention, SocialWare, which is perhaps the most ambitious of the group. It's been working on a management tool designed to make social media enterprise-friendly by letting companies apply access controls, data management policies and the like to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking services. It's still in the pilot stage, but SocialWare seems like it's onto something big, namely, helping to establish social networking as a business tool that doesn't pose a threat to all that is sacred in the purview of IT.

This is by no means intended to be a complete list. There are undoubtedly more companies with business-friendly social networking tools out there. The point, which I believe I've been making perfectly clear of late, is that if you're not at least thinking about how social networking is going to affect your IT mission in the coming years, you were probably also one of the IT types who proclaimed the sky was falling when instant messaging first began to appear on workplace desktops.

And we all know how that went.

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What we at Know It All want to know (there's irony for you!) is, do you have micro-blogging or social media strategies? Do you officially allow or prohibit its use? And do you expect to have to support it in the relatively near future? Please let us know in the comments field below.