I have just been invited by two ‘friends’, meaning good colleagues within the IT industry with whom I like to interact and exchange opinions, to join Dopplr which is a new and imaginative way to solve an interesting issue for people like me who travel widely and often. Too often I discover that I was in the right place at the right time to meet one of my Web 2.0 social ‘friends’ some time afterwards and we both quietly curse a missed opportunity for some real ‘face’ time.
Well now we can all publish our travel plans in such a way that our ‘friends’ who are members of Dopplr will know all about our schedules and we can see connection possibilities. I love it! It’s a great solution to an annoying issue. BUT and here is the big problem, it’s yet another community to manage and enter information into, and I am looking for the services of a ‘Community Integrator’. Yes I know there are work arounds and some clever things you can do, but that’s still hardly a scalable approach.
Right now the functionality of Dopplr and a number of other communities, some of which I have provided links for in past blogs, is at a level when it would be a real benefit in a large group such as Capgemini, but not if every community is separate and needs to be managed separately etc. I need all of them to be cohesively integrated together as a superset and for this to be linked to, what I guess is mine and most other peoples normal corporate working environment – Microsoft Outlook. At moment Web 2.0 is providing me with too much imagination and not enough consolidation to be corporately useful, which is a shame because I really like, and want quite a few of these new capabilities, but only if I can gain the advantage of integrated scale.
To me this is rapidly becoming the issue, the creation of a superset community which makes sure that a significant enough number of my ‘friends’ are linked up for us both to benefit regardless of the individual communities any of us may belong to for different capabities. And that takes me to an interesting opinion piece from Bruce Richardson and analyst at AMR, who in the midst of the boom about Facebook was courageous enough to ask the question of what the future for Facebook might be once the hype, or novelty factor, had worn off. It’s a good question, and to me begs the old answer; ‘get niche, get volume or get out’, to which is added the rejoinder ‘and remember niches always close up and squeeze you out, or open up and you drop out’.
Bruce suggests that when he looks at what some of the mainstream software vendors are doing about Web 2.0 and communities that the niche will move into mainstream and that Facebook will drop out. It’s a fair point and I certainly agree that the speed at which these guys are moving suggests that Web 2.0 type technology and capabilities will be firmly integrated, if not embedded, into their products by the end of 2008. And that will probably answer my plea for corporate integration, but to do what?
Is it really right to suggest independent free standing communities are not required? I don’t think so, in fact I think this whole area will grow as the ‘online’ village of users expands and expands, or put another way as more people choose to work as independent value creating or deploying experts how will they find each other and collaborate?. So I would expand Bruce’s comments to suggest that there is a need for a real over arching integration between communities built around specialist capabilities like Dropplr, or around specialist interests for collaborating and sharing expertise or content.
To me it could be like search engines, were Google is a super set search engine that many other specialist search engines use to power their own more focused activities. Maybe that’s where the future of Facebook, or MySpace, or Bebo etc. lies.