Before Going into the Predictions

In looking at the six predictions, there is a lot of overlap at least in the tools, features, functions and capabilities. I think it might be useful to, at least, cover a few prerequisite areas first.

The tools and applications associated with Social Networking include blogging, podcasting, video blogging, Wikis, and RSS, and work with web sites that are created to allow for a conversation instead of providing content, one way. You can find a pretty good description of these terms by clicking on the hotlink and reading about them on Wikipedia.

The earliest of these technologies, blogging and Wikis, have been around 10 or so years, about the time that the commercial Internet was born. RSS has a couple of known beginnings inovoving different people/organizations, but suffice it to say it came about in the late 1990’s. Podcasting and video blogging (Vlogging) have only been around for a couple of years.

There are also a number of software tools that are associated with what is referred to as Web 2.0 or the second generation of the Web. Again a relatively new term that was coined by Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media in late 2004. One the the more important results of Web 2.0 tools is the ability to combine two or more sites or parts of sites and create a new web site or, potentially, a new business. The tech world often refers to these as mashups. The bottom line is that these can be created over a weekend versus months of application development. This again is a relatively new capability that can change the way we do business overnight.

When looking at new technologies, it is interesting to see how they develop and spread into everyday business. For the better part of the technology revolution that occurred during the 20th century, technologies started in the Department of Defense, and trickled down into large enterprises, then small/medium business, etc. The main reason was the vast sums of money needed to create, prove and commercialize technologies. In this framework, large businesses were second in line to work with new things and got to determine when and if a certain technology would be brought in and how to incorporate it into their existing infrastructure and processes.

When technologies develop from the other side of the spectrum, consumers, and work their way up the chain, enterprise customers generally have a difficult time dealing with them. For example, WiFi really took off in the home and home office long before the CIOstaff had to figure out how to deal withit and all the associated security issues that came along with WiFi.

All of the tools and applications associated with Social Networking started with the consumer or end user and have been working their way up the chain. As such, the enterprise is just now trying to see how these fit into their businesses and processes, and there is no dearth of traditional leaders who would like these treated as a fad and hope they go away. However, if you look at some of the companies who have embraced these new ways of communicating with their customers, you will probably agree that social networking is here to stay. Look at Cisco Systems, HP, IBM, and Microsoft as examples of this change.

And now, off to justifying my predictions…

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