OK, so Twitter Inc. is branching into commercial accounts, starting with the introduction of a beta service marshaling executive Tweets, from Federated Media and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).
It still doesn't follow that Twitter is suited to enterprise communication. Sales, marketing, interpartner banter, yes. Internal communications, no. If anything, Twitter is anti-enterprise, given its penchant for consuming gobs of otherwise productive time.
This isn't to steal any of Twitter's thunder. I agree with the assessment by InformationWeek's Michael Hickins that Twitter "has done well to resist behaving like Facebook, which has suffered from the hubristic notion that it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, with all its attendant public relations fiascoes... Twitter is behaving like a more grown-up business by thinking of how its business model is used by customers, and then finding ways to monetize it."
But despite the kudos, I for one don't suffer visions of Twitter as more than a potential time-waster in the enterprise, good for chasing celebrity gossip or tracking the tournament, but not for conducting business with your colleagues.
Businesses have been exploring the enterprise potential of micro-blogging for a while now. But, aside from a a handful of firms like Yammer or Present.ly, they've come up short.
A few months ago, we at here at Internet Evolution signed onto Yammer and tried to get something going. But our experience was similar to what happened at BusinessWeek: Micro-blogging simply didn't fit our corporate lifestyle.
It's not that we don't have plenty of projects, meetings, group discussions, and globetrotting bosses. So far, though, our IM, email, and Sharepoint work just fine. We even fall back on that time-tested business stalwart, the conference call. (How 20th century is that?)
Companies like GE that are successfully deploying social networking usually are heavily into customized media sites, wikis, and online project management tools. I have yet to hear about the astounding savings generated by learning what the marketing department had for lunch.
The bottom-line issue is that micro-blogging has yet to prove its worth as a tool to streamline enterprise business processes. "When we survey enterprises, over 90 percent of key workers say they get too much email and too many interruptions from being 'always on' even without Twitter-type services," states ThinkerNetter Tom Nolle, CEO of consultancy CIMI Corp. , in an email today. "The problem with all these things in an enterprise context is that workers may share a company but they don’t share a work context. Everybody is fighting their own independent fires, and real-time communication between workers creates a need for contextual synchronization on somebody’s part. Too many times shifting gears and you start having productivity problems."
Nolle thinks Twitter and other micro-blogging platforms might have an enterprise future. And they might. One of this site's readers put it well: "If they could enrich the tag functionality (making it simpler and more comprehensive) and put extra filtering/aggregating mechanisms these tools could become an excellent project monitoring additions to the organizational process."
That hasn't happened yet. When it does, I'll be the first to stand corrected.
— Mary Jander, ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution
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