This post on what is new in the world of social media comes from Sean Yu, the current CFO of the GROU.PS social networking engine. Prior to joining GROU.PS, Sean was a Search & Services Fellow at Endeavor in Istanbul, where he advised a variety of high-growth Turkish start-ups with capital raising and international expansion. Before Endeavor, Sean worked at Gryphon Investors in San Francisco and Lehman Brothers in New York City.
Web 2.0 has enhanced most aspects of my social life. I obsessively use foursquare to tell friends my whereabouts, Instagram to share pictures of my gastronomic adventures, and Spotify to not fall too behind with music trends. I am constantly in touch with those I care about with regular updates, and I think my friendships are stronger as a result.
But when I’m not socializing, I’m working, and work is still a mostly solitary experience for me. I shoot off an email if I need to communicate, and once in a while grab colleagues into a meeting room if emails are not doing the job. But how do I know if a colleague in another department is working on a project that critically impacts mine? How do I track the progress of my development team in Istanbul when I am travelling in Palo Alto? What new revolutionary ideas are my colleagues thinking today and how can I provide them with feedback? While the internet has succeeded at making our work communication much faster, e-mail (one of the oldest internet technologies), is still our primary tool for work related web communication.
This is why I believe that the next step for social media will be new communication technologies for the workplace that apply the same Web 2.0 concepts that revolutionized how friends communicate, to revolutionize how colleagues communicate. There are several companies working on these kinds of social media like work solutions, notably Yammer (enterprise focused), Google+/Apps (integration coming soon) and the start-up I work for, GROU.PS (general purpose). All of these ‘work media’ are centered on the idea that breakthroughs happen in collaborative environments when channels of communication are open and frequent.
Here’s what you can expect to see:
Instead of email addresses as the single user identifier, users will have full blown profiles that better capture their identities, skills, and experiences. Profiles will be the interface where you communicate and store the interactions you’ve had with any particular user. Profiles will enable a host of other possible interactions, such as status updates (to update team members without spamming them), and following colleagues (whose actions might become relevant to yours in the future).
Profiles will (naturally) be connected through networks that model team and corporate structures. Just as in social networks such as Facebook or Linkedin, networks will allow users to manage contacts, the colleagues they are following, or the privacy of information being shared. Additionally, networks will allow decentralized information to be searchable. Lastly, networks will channel communication to intended targets, such as when you want to communicate with a particular project team or an entire department.
Communication can now be fine-tuned based on priority and intent. Not all communications are created equal. Sometimes you desperately need to get the attention of someone. Other times you have a thought that’s nice to share but don’t really know who will find it important. Work media technology allows users to select a range of methods of communication depending on your communication needs. You can send someone a message, or invite them to a chat if you need their undivided attention. You can wall post your latest actions to passively update your project team, or you can blog about your thoughts to your followers. Meanwhile, each piece of communication you share can be spread through likes and reblogs to help you reach the right audience.