Earlier this week I posted my thoughts on what I saw as convergence between SaaS and social networks. I listed out some striking similarities between the two. Then on the back of a comment from Bob Warfield I wavered in my views. I was wrong.
Today I see on Read write web this example of a collaboration tool being offered through facebook.com. This is a perfect example of convergence. It makes sense when you think about FB’s roots. University based social networking is now colliding with team based projects “-viola a hosted collaboration tool in a social network". The Myoffice product that RRW mentions looks and sounds massively like Zoho and Zimbra. Why can't this work for me? I’m a business user I have a FB identity and occasionally want to do projects “collaborative projects” with other FB users. Isn’t it nirvana to have one place to be a consumer and business person. Micro businesses or SOHO are by definition 1 man band, just how you distinguish between me as a one man band and me as a one man socialiser is a moot point. I will want consumer services and business services when and where I want them and if I can get them from the same place, isn’t that a better thing?
Another point I want to mention, why can’t SaaS be consumer focused? Isn’t internet banking a [clunky] SaaS application? It completely disrupted on premise banking and its consumer focused. Gmail is a classic example of this as well, clearly its trying to extend upwards into the SMB space.
I reiterate that the platform as a service play spans these two phenomenon. And to my mind we have a uniquely paradoxical situation. SaaS vendors have the applications and in some instances like Force.com the platform. While Social networks have the mass user populations. The key is marrying the two together in a way that makes sense. Collaboration is one, CRM could be another (facebooks friends function could be called a rudimentary CRM system after all – and its great for doing reunions etc)
The three key unifying forces here is the internet as a channel, getting holding and using identity and the mashup platforms being developed.