Others are thinking SaaS and social networks

Ok, i know i'm harping on but the coincidence here is more than astounding.

 From my mornings RSS feeds comes instructions from the MS CRM Dynamics team on integrating CRM 4.0 with Facebook. This is exactly what i pointed out in my mis-spelt post of Friday .

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

In a back channel conversation with Ben Kepes, he wasn't surprised at all by this . Saying that this is just mashups in its next evolution and the way of the future…

Perhaps thats more the point of this series. Maybe convergence isn't between different taxonomy…its in the application mashups and the only constraint is the programmers imagination… that and where the money is. 


Evidence of SaaS in social networks

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.

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 …

Paradigm Shifts

After reading this post  by Eric Norlan about how some of the leading web 2.0 exponents are only now considering identity federation I was struck by the notion that, turely to get widespread adoption of web 2.0, its going to take a massive paradigm shift. It highlights to me that even those who portain to live and breath the web 2.0 culture sometimes miss the point.

    Posted by Paul  

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