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Some Thoughts on "Facebook for the Enterprise"

As we inch closer to the launch of the DoubleDutch Enterprise Suite, we've been thinking a lot about how social functionality will change the way people work.

With tens of thousands of people now using our mobile collaboration software in a work setting, we've developed some pretty strong opinions.

I posted today over on The Next Web about how many of the companies working to bring social functionality to the enterprise social are choosing to model themselves off of Facebook, the dominant consumer social networking service.

Here at DoubleDutch, we understand conceptually why the Facebook for the Enterprise pitch is so appealing.  We also think that it's the wrong approach.

Here are a few key quotes from the article:

(Facebook is now an old service)

Even as social business software companies race to mimic Facebook with its mega-social graph, two-way friending, and desktop-first philosophy, it seems as if the world of social web apps has evolved again.

(Mobile, social, simple is what people want now)

Simple, single purpose, often mobile-first apps with narrow, use-case focused social graphs such as Instagram, Foursquare, DailyBooth, Runkeeper, Hashable and many more seem to be on the rise. Twitter should probably be included in this group as well with its focus on being device agnostic, its simple premise, and its asynchronous friend networks.

(Facebook is now more intent on protecting its lead than driving innovation in how people communicate)

Facebook, as it exists today, represents the best social functionality of several of years ago. Its massive scale and network effects mask the fact it is no longer setting the course in terms of social innovation. A look at its most recent major-feature announcements – Deals, Places, Questions – hints at a company that is content to mine the startup field for big ideas, and drop them into the Facebook ecosystem as appropriate.

(We still love you Facebook)

This is not to say that Facebook is failing, or even struggling. They are dominating. By all accounts, they are executing phenomenally well. And the raw scale of their community and the pervasiveness of Facebook Connect and its Like buttons will likely keep it dominant for many years to come. But they are no longer innovating – at least not at the same level as the huge, current crop of tiny, angel-funded startups are.

(Social will change the way people work, but the devil is in the details)

The numerous “Facebook for the Enterprise” companies have correctly grokked two big trends: 1) Social technology is changing the way that people communicate and collaborate, and 2) The enterprise is consumerizing. But, mimicking Facebook is not the right way to get in front of these waves.

In my opinion, the killer, enterprise-social app won’t be a Facebook-style mega app at all. It will be hundreds of mobile first, social, simple apps with narrow contact graphs and limited scope that deliver value to specific work groups, and hook seamlessly into the legacy back-end systems.

These apps will look more like the apps of 2011 than the apps of 2007. We will witness a technology leapfrog not unlike Latin America consumers choosing to skip landline phones all together.

In theory, “Facebook for the Enterprise” makes a lot of sense.

In practice, it is about three years too late.

You can read the whole post here, and we'd love to hear your comments.

By Lawrence Coburn | 23 May, 2011

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About the Author: Lawrence Coburn

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Founder & CEO