Are SaaS and social networks the same thing?

Perhaps the correct question is,” will they be the same thing?” IT people love to categorise things, It helps us organise and understand a very fast changing and increasingly complex world. Sometimes though, it doesn’t always do us any favours.

I think that there is convergence between SaaS and social networks (effectively making them the same ‘thing’). I think that this will become increasingly the case. Here’s why.

 Both are webware or internet delivered services. They are both heavily influenced by web 2.0 technologies. The good ones both allow for mashups and user generated alterations. In the SaaS world they are increasingly addressing the integration with other applications and platforms. Social networks are all about PaaS (integration) and only recently have they been about applications. Both need scale to be successful and in both cases scale is about eyeballs and identities. This make sense as revenue and increased market value is driven by these two factors. They share similar user patterns too. Unlike traditional Software which you use because you bought it (or someone else did). You pay for these services because you use them! And….the more you use the application or network the more you continue to use it (its quite self fulfilling). There is value to both of bringing in networks be they suppliers or friends. Both are a real Trojan horse. I mean why would you, or how could you move when everyone you knew is in one place? This is especially true if it was you that invited them in…

Both are trying to address the same financial hurdles; that is what is what is my value and how do I make a profit. Similarly, standards are only just emerging. Google’s Opensocial , Force.com  and the Microsoft SDK announcement are all indicators of this.

Any way you get the idea. I think we should stop thinking about these two web 2-0 trends as distinct entities and start viewing them as a converged offering. I doing so you expend your market mindset, develop in different ways and treat users in a different way. The perplexing thing will be how we manage the identity collision I that is what happens when a consumer becomes a business person and via versa …

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