Socialtext announced two major product announcements today: Socialtext People and Socialtext Dashboard. I'm excited about Dashboard, but People really rocks my world.
A lot of the coverage of People is calling it "Facebook for the enterprise". That's a fair description, but it misses what it is to me the coolest thing about People: Its in-the-flow-ness.
I love the way Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites organize content around people and relationships. What I don't love is how very above-the-flow they are. Facebook and LinkedIn are places where you go to "network". Unless you're under 25 (which, for better or worse, I'm not), they're detached from the rest of your daily activity. A person's activities or experiences show up on Facebook or LinkedIn only when somebody makes a special effort to put them there. As a result, most of a person's activities don't ever show up. (For instance: I've run dozens of user feedback surveys, but you wouldn't know it from my LinkedIn profile.)
A few years ago, Lee Kempler and I wrote in the McKinsey Quarterly that companies need better ways to connect employees to each other based on their interests and expertise. Our core insight was that what matters most is not what people say about themselves, but what people's experience says about them. In other words, it is what people do in-the-flow not what they do above-the-flow that makes them interesting to connect and network with. The missing ingredient of social networking is connecting to in-the-flow activity that makes a person's profile and relationships meaningful.
Enter Socialtext People. Socialtext People isn't just an inside-the-firewall social networking tool. It's a networking tool that integrates with Socialtext wikis where people are doing their in-the-flow work: posting messages, drafting meeting agendas, taking notes, documenting processes, spec'ing products, and so on. You can see what people are actually doing, not just what they say they're doing. You can also see who they're doing it with.
That makes for an incredibly rich, detailed, nuanced view of a person's interests, activities, and expertise. It makes Socialtext a platform for a whole bunch of new and powerful activities:
- Identify true experts across the organization on even the most minute topics
- Find and connect with colleagues across the organization working on similar topics
- Conduct due diligence on internal "hires" for internal transfer or short-term projects
- Monitor employee or colleague activity
- Identify key influencers in the organization for change communications and post-merger management
You won't find that on Facebook or LinkedIn.
If you're interested, here's some of the buzz: