Social Networks 101: Using Personal Tools to Be Business Competitive

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Purely Business 2.0 Tools

Wiki

A Wiki is a collaborative Web page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone to create a quick Web page that allows visitors to search the Wiki’s content and edit the content in real time, as well as view updates since their last visit. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and power community websites. On a moderated Wiki, owners review comments before additions to the main body of the topic. Additional features include calendar sharing, live AV conferencing, RSS feeds and more.

Ask yourself: Could we use Wikis to enhance internal and external collaboration?

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business-oriented professional-networking website for exchanging information, ideas and opportunities. There are more than 35 million registered users spanning 170 industries actively networking with each other. For example, large insurance companies use LinkedIn to foster networking with their independent sales representatives. Human-resource professionals from all over the world could use LinkedIn to share best practices.

Ask yourself: Could we use LinkedIn to expand our organizational network for enhanced knowledge sharing?

Cloud Computing and Software as a Service

In cloud computing, some or all of the storage, software, IT processes and data-center facilities you use can exist on your provider’s server, which is maintained and cared for by your provider, giving you 24/7 access from any device anywhere. The cost of upgrading hardware and software, maintenance and associated IT-labor costs can be dramatically reduced or eliminated.

Currently, the ideal organization would be any size company that’s facing big investments in computing and communications infrastructure. For example, Amazon.com can give you an entire e-commerce backend. Software as a Service (SaaS) such as SalesForce.com has a CRM package, SciQuest has a spend-management package, and Google, Microsoft and others have a suite of offerings.

Ask yourself:Could we use cloud computing and software as a service to streamline our IT needs?

Gaining a New Competitive Advantage

By reframing the use of social-networking technology, companies can increase communication, collaboration, problem-solving and competitive advantage with little cost. Remember, many of these tools are free or nearly free, making them accessible to even the smallest businesses. Therefore, the sooner you embrace Business 2.0 and put it to work for you, the faster you can penetrate new markets and win the lion’s share of business.

Daniel Burrus is the CEO of Burrus Research and author of six books, including Technotrends. Burrus monitors global advancements in technology-driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. For more information, visit www.burrus.com.

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