Saturday, December 6, 2008

Social Networks and Corporate Governance

Hi All,

I have studied financial journals and found one interesting article about the SN and Corporate Governance in modern world. Here is the abstract:

We analyze frameworks that link corporate governance and firm values to governing boards' social network and innovations in technology. Because agents create social networks with individuals with whom they share commonalities along the dimensions of social status and income, among other attributes. CEOs may participate in board members' social networks which interferes with the quality of governance. At the same time, social connections with members of a board can allow for better evaluation of the members' abilities. Thus, in choosing whether to have board members with social ties to management, one must trade off the benefit of members successfully identifying high ability CEOs against the cost of inadequate monitoring due to social connections. Further, technologies like the Internet and electronic mail that reduce the extent of face-to-face networking cause agents to seek satisfaction of their social nee& at the workplace, which exacerbates the impact of social network on governance. The predictions of our model are consistent with recent episodes that appear to signify inadequate monitoring of corporate disclosures as well as with high levels of executive compensation. Additionally, empirical tests support the model’s key implication that there is better governance and lower executive compensation in firms where networks are less likely to form.

The article can be found in our library in the European Financial Management Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2008, pp. 633-662. The author is Avanidhar Subrahmanyam.

Good luck.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Facebook and Google are tearing down walls between homepages

Dear all,

have a look at these two new tools developed by google and facebook:

Both projects aim on making the SN of their pages available all through the net, meaning that you can change your information on other websites by just logging in to google or facebook. Seems to be an interesting step into a more connected information exchange. So be careful which pictures of us you put on your accounts :-)

ps: sorry, for some reason I can't make the links clickable...

Share the Joy!

Best wishes for the Holidays--all of them (Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas.) Click on the headline to see how to celebrate it with your social network.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All that time online? It's apparently OK.

This NY Times article (click on headline above) summarizes a just-published MacArthur Foundation report on a three-year study of teenage use of the Internet, part of a $50 million project on digital learning.

Seriously interesting--both the article and the report.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Social Networks: Effect on Innovation

While searching for articles on effect of social networks on innovation, technological developments, I have come across this paper (How can researh networks improve innovation process, 2007)  by Mats Wilhemsson (Royal Insitute of Technology, Sweden). 
The paper talks about the importance of collaboration in innovation networks in the very success of the innovation process. “Scientists who collaborate with each other are more productive, oftentimes producing ‘better’ science, than are individual investigators”
According to Acs, Z., 2000. (Regional Innovation, Knowledge and Global Change. Pinter, London.) networks are also associated with a greater degree of innovativeness. Hence,
innovative networks generate more knowledge, better innovations, and, therefore, higher profits and more wealth. One of the implications that was talked is that innovation hubs can play an important role and both increasing the quality of the research and increase the innovativeness, especially outside the largest metropolitan areas and in markets where the IT sector is strong.

Another article (Spatial and Social Networks in Organizational Innovation) presents a review of the knowledge bases of social network and spatial layout theories, and reports on a preliminary study of the effects of spatial layout on the formation and maintenance of social network
structure and the support of innovation.

Strong networks of people or organizations always tend to exchange ideas for the betterment of their organization and to make them more efficient. This kind of network is "Fault tolerant". It remains impact if one node of this innovative network fails. For a small individual input, the output from the network can be surprisingly innovative. This is called Multiplier Effect.

The following article (by Dr. Luke Pittaway, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, Lancaster University Management School) talks about the point that those firms which do not cooperate and which do not formally or informally exchange knowledge limit their knowledge base on a long-term basis and ultimately reduce their ability to enter into exchange

Almost all of the above articles argue in support to the viewpoint that social networks play a very significant role in innovation process in organizations.

Ideas from beyond the Wall!!

When ideas dry up, that is when you desperately hope for a flash of light to strike you which would make your day. It is indeed great to see that people have found this potential in social networking. It might have taken a while for this to strike people but the rate at which new methodologies, campaigns, marketing strategies are rising is phenomenal. All of a sudden, a plethora of opportunities lay in front of most people who might have disregarded it earlier and failed to realize the power of networks. Companies performing variety of functions from fund raising to idea generation have found this unbelievable method and that too “AT NO COST”. The following article describes how a variety of companies and organizations have been able to use social networking as a tool to convert people in the network to donors helping the social cause.

 There have also been instances where it has been used for providing microfinance and yes it is true. What remains behind the hood of the potential is yet to be fully realized. Is it for the good, a blessing in disguise?? Or something that is slowly becoming an addictive force waiting to lunge and gobble you at the right moment?? There might be instances where such a power could be used for the wrongful reasons. Is it right in passing this potential to people who do not have a clue as to what lies in its future?

As for that matter is every new discovery or invention. It follows a pattern where the goods and bads reach a tradeoff for it to sustain. Right now it might seem lucrative, great, admirably the best thought so far but so were other plans in history that have been forgotten and long gone. There have also been instances where these social networking sites have proves to be a disaster with hackers defacing people and hence causing public embarrassment. A nice article gives an opposite view and looks like a serious thought.

All I have done is thrown the ball in you court to think about social networking and carefully decide before taking the next step. It could turn out to be a PIT…. 

Social Networking Sites work to turn users into profits

Social networking websites have been bought and sold for very substantial sums of money in the recent past. These sites must generate large profits to justify their valuations or there will be serious consequences. If social networking websites are not able to produce the desired revenues then the expected proliferation of these sites will not become a reality. An argument can be made both for reaching profits and not reaching profits. The natural question is "so what?". Well... these websites will only continue to operate if they can generate profits. The failure of social networking websites might call in to question the importance of social networking. The following is a quote from the article regarding the beginning of profit generation. ""Honeymoon is over for social networks. They need to start generating revenue now or bow out of the race," according to a new report from In-Stat."

In conclusion, social networking websites must start generating profits to justify their values. The sites will close in the future if they do not turn a profit because investor cash is very fickle. Failure within the big 3 social networking sites (Myspace, LinkedIn, and Facebook) could change the way we view social networking as a concept. sites work to turn users into profits -

Social Networks of the Future

A few years ago “blogging” was an unheard of concept. Portals like Yahoo and MSN gave way to the next generation of platforms – Facebook, Myspace etc. The way we communicate with those around us and the way we do things has changed a lot during this time. I found some information on what the next generation of social networking tools will be like and what new things will be possible.

Imagine walking into a room and being able to know the names of everyone there, what their interests and hobbies are, where they work and even if they are single and interested in dating. Welcome to the world of mobile social networking. There is a start up company working on such an application for the i-phone.

Every time a new networking site opens up, a friend invites me and I end up with yet another account name and password to remember. Social networking of the future may have just one universal ID complete with all details and a “social graph” so the only thing I have to do will be to import all my data instantly updating the new service and connecting it to the rest of my online world.

Or how about having a page rank for people, making it easier for companies to direct their marketing activities and target potential customers / influencers. Google already has a patent pending on this technology and it’s expected to be their latest approach to online advertising.

All the applications mentioned here are in different stages of development. They should be available over the next few years. As for the year 2020, we are yet unsure of what the future has in store for social networking.

Terrorism - Can SNA save the world?

The whole world is reeling under the threat of insecurity over terrorism. Is there any point for guessing this? What is so special about this blog then? Will it be worth reading? Yes. At a time like this - recession coupled with terrorism, if I say that there is a tool to map the terrorist network and track them - you would be thinking that I am kidding. Definitely not. It is a reality. Social Networking Analysis (SNA in short - not to reduce the pain of typing it time and again but in a noble cause to save some memory :-) ) can provide us a solution in mapping a terrorist network.

This blog, as every MBA is obliged to do, is organized and structured into two parts.
Part 1: Theoretical ideas to back SNA as a tool to map terrorist networks
Part 2: Example of a mapping methodology means - Echelon

Part 1:

Determining the key players of a terrorist network is still a major challenge for intelligence agencies. However, even tougher is to track their network, even if these key agents have been identified. Is it humanly possible to interpret an entire network based on very few agents’ information? One possible solution that has been discussed by North & Macal, 2005 is the net breaker model which uses agent based social modeling to identify a potential space of networks. The space of alternatives will provide valuable insights regarding the network under consideration. The detailed report, which provides an interesting go through can be downloaded from the following link. (

The next idea that I discuss here is that of Steve Ressler. (

In this paper, he starts by discussing the threat of terrorism and the basic benefits of SNA in analyzing real world networks and their incredible impacts. The exactness of the network can be obtained by SNA, provided the data is available and hence the criticality of SNA lies outside the SNA and in data collection. Then the author proceeds to discuss about the modeling methodologies and the necessity of expertise to interpret the results of applying these models on the data gathered. The most important aspect of this work is that Steve brings in a lot of published articles for references which have added considerable value to the research on this topic.

Part 2: Echelon(

Echelon, is the signals intelligence collection and analysis network operated by AUSCANZUKUS (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US, UK). Echelon is capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks and microwave links. This serves as a tool to map a network of any particular individual and thus provides the intelligence experts with a platform to perform the analysis to gain insights into potential terrorist networks.

But the catch, terrorist organizations are strong social networks on their own. At the moment, it is the usage of social networks by building strong ties based on common fundamentals that are driving stronger terrorist organizations. It should be possible by better application of existing methodologies and creating new models to aid in increased accuracy of mapping networks and thus providing valuable insights into cracking down terrorist activities.

Social Networking: Panacea for the "wall street" disease

I guess the CREDIT CRISIS which is currently threatening the existence of some of the most revered institutions needs no introduction. It came like a tornado from afar...damaged and even eliminated the bears and lehmans..and is still raging on !But questions have been raised as to whether the tornado did really come off the shore or was it completely home made. And unfortunately the majority believes that the devil was lurking within. While exploring some articles about social networking and the need for it, I came across a really interesting link.

Its an interesting idea that explains the need for a transparency mechanism to track the monitorings of the Wall Street- the mecca of finance.The view is further supported by an interview.There is another link embedded in the page,,2933,427644,00.html
Its an interview by Mark Cuban, the Chairman and President of HD News. He explains the current lack of trust in the market, the inability of bankers and analysts and the lack of transparency mechanism.He goes on a step further and says that if such monitoring through "social networking" is not implemented, the hundreds of billions of bailouts maybe worthless. The dollars will cure the symptoms but the "wall street" disease needs a panacea: Social Networking may be the answer.

"Sales 2.0." : How Businesses are Using Online Collaboration to Spark Sales

Social Networking is still a relatively new field and has its pros and cons. To outweigh the pros against the cons or otherwise is a personal perception.


Well seeing some interesting posts during the last one week, I could not restrict myself from posting another blog entry more relevant to the topic of our debate, “By 2020, social networks will be recognized as the main drivers of organizational success”.

What is main driver of organizational success? If you would ask me I would say its the sales of the company. With the emergence of "Web 2.0." a new set of business practices are creeping into the way companies sell their products to their customers. This new trend in selling is being called “Sales 2.0.”.

What is “Sales 2.0.” ? "Sales 2.0." is the adaptation of "Web 2.0." concepts and technologies to improve and accelerate the sales process. Like "Web 2.0.", many of the tools, technologies and techniques of "Sales 2.0." are being born of experimentation. "Sales 2.0." is radically reshaping every facet in the process of how companies market and sell to their customers. It’s helping salespeople do a better job of identifying leads, turning leads into opportunities and converting those opportunities into customer wins. 

Companies are using "Sales 2.0." tools to try to extend traditional networking activities both inside and outside of the company. The use of "Sales 2.0." tools internally allows employees and other closed groups, such as channel partners, to collaborate and share proprietary data and ideas behind their corporate firewalls. This is akin to a private conversation. Companies also are using "Sales 2.0." tools externally to reach out and connect with prospects, customers and otherequivalent of public conversations. 

Survey results shows that the growth of “Sales 2.0” is effecting the traditional sales and marketing efforts. “Sales 2.0.” is more prominent in small companies as compared to big companies because of fewer resources and generally these firms are less restriction by their IT departments. As many companies are using "Web 2.0." technologies both internally and externally for sales and marketing purposes, there still appears to be plenty of room for additional adoption, even among smaller companies. 

While the majority of sales and marketing professionals are not yet using social media applications such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Jigsaw, for business purposes, that’s rapidly changing. People are beginning to understand the power of collaboration and "Sales 2.0.". Sales and marketing professionals are beginning to see they can use these tools to do a better job of selling and marketing to their customers. Sales and marketing professionals who use these types of tools gain a competitive advantage over their peers who do not use them. Businesses are starting to see that wikis make their internal teams more productive while tools such as blogs help them target and direct their message externally to customers. And vendors such as Oracle are seeing that incorporating "Sales 2.0." tools and concepts into their products will empower sales and marketing teams, making them even more effective.

Get your own at Scribd or explore others:

Building brand loyalty via online social networking: The Nike+ community way

Companies have tried various means to improve customer loyalty by effective customer engagement. But there is none too unique and remarkable as the Nike+. Two years ago Nike in a bid to enhance an existing customer behaviour launched the Nike+. What initially envisioned as a clever way to combine music and running has evolved to create a social network around running.

Nike took notice of the fact that more and more people are running with music and a good majority with i-Pod. So to combine music and running, to make it simpler and to make the experience more compelling, Nike collaborated with Apple. Nike developed a sensor that tucks into the shoe and worked with Apple to have the senor talk to i-Pod and reveal the running data while listening to music. And for people who do not like listening to music while running Nike created a Sport band. Both these devices track the runner’s performance in terms of distance covered, speed and calories burned. After the run the user can plug-in the i-pod or USB device on the sportsband to a computer to record the stats in the Nike+ web-site and compare with other runners.

Through the Nike+ community you can find other runners in your locality, set-up friendly challenges on the web and connect to any runner anywhere in the world through data and discussion forums. So what most of us used to do at a micro-scale with friends and people we train with are possible with anyone anywhere in the world regardless of proximity. It’s not just the data at the time of running but every run gives you a currency you keep building. You can use your miles and energy to challenge other people in the community and make the experience richer even after the run. To date the Nike+ community has registered more than 93 million running miles. The most active users in the online community are identified by Nike as community super users and Nike conducts special events for them. Top community members even get to feature in commercials for the brand.

This brings us to the important question “What are the tangible benefits to the company?” According to the market research firm SportsOneSource Nike accounted for 48% of all running-shoe sales in the U.S in 2006. Today, its share is 61%. A significant amount of the growth comes from Nike+. 40% of community members who didn’t own Nike+ ended up buying. Nike’s has improved its relative market share. So far Nike has sold 1.3 million Nike+ iPod Sport Kits and 500,000 Nike+ SportBands. There is also an opinion that Nike+ attracts only serious runners who account for a very small fraction of the entire customer base and that the revenues from Nike+ is diminutive in comparison to the $18.63 billion in sales the company posted in fiscal 2008.

Nike sees the community as an effective platform to communicate with its customers. People are using the social network to tell Nike about their experience. Nike gets feedback through blogs and other forums and gives real-time solutions. When a new product is launched or a new feature is added to the existing one, Nike can gather feedback immediately through the community. The community builds strong customer engagement and attachment. Nike feels that if they provide an indispensible service for athletes they will have better perception and preference for Nike.

Nike is looking through a longer term lens to further utilise digital technology and social networking to improve performance. Nike+ is planning to connect with other social networks like facebook to broaden the appeal. Nike is planning to replicate the success to other business areas. They have recently launched the ballers network for basketball enthusiasts.


I started research on the topic with an article on business week. Link is given below. It also has the video of an interview with Stefan Olander, Nike’s Global Director Digital and Content.

The URL below contains text of an interview with Roberto Tagliabue, creative Director Nike Techlab, video of interview with Michael Tchao General Manager Nike Techlab, video of an event with Nike+ community super users and video of a Commercial featuring Nike’s top community member

Also the Nike plus web-site was a useful source of information.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Social Networks vs Traditional success drivers - A battle to watch out for

What started off as an exercise to “evaluate” the relationship with our classmates based on different behavioural characteristics, and then further showing us how to practically analyze those statistics, the study of Social Networking as a recognizable force in driving the success of an organization, is certainly an area which has stimulated our grey cells to think and work out of the box! And the task in front of us is to analyze whether by the year 2020, Social Networks will be recognized as the main drivers of organizational success, or not. So what is it that gives birth to such a theory, which is so deeply rooted in the complexities of Human Psychology and our perception of the same?

The answer is – (a) The fact that in spite of its emergence as a decisive player in shaping the fortunes of an organization, SNs still have a discreet level of acceptance of being a catalyst, and (b) Is enough being done in the research, academic and corporate circles to highlight SNs as an unarguably powerful entity in years to come?

What according to me is most critical to our discussion is the interpretation of the keywords emboldened in the introductory paragraph. Talking of an organization as a social arrangement of entities which pursue collective goals, we can start with companies working for profits and also consider governments having a common goal of efficient administration. A terrorist outfit having a central goal of destruction and an NGO dedicated to social causes, are forms of organization which although take the discussion to a different level, but are extremely relevant.

Similarly, every entity has its own parameters for success, as defined above, and the factors which drive this success can range from competitive advantage in terms of resources (human capital, money), technology, opportunity, foresightedness, planning, and above all – the will to combine all of the above forces and work towards realization of a common goal for the organization.

A driver can actually be main or the most important factor of the organization’s success, and still be not recognized as being so. Thus, its true potential would never be realized if the organization and its stakeholders do not work towards leveraging the advantages provided by that driver.

Joel M. Podolny & Karen L. Page define Networks in Network Forms of Organization,” Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 24, No. 1 (August 1998), pp. 58–59, as “any collection of actors (N > 2) that pursue repeated, enduring exchange relations with one another and at the same time lack a legitimate organizational authority to arbitrate and resolve disputes that may arise during the exchange”.

So, if we take any combination of the stated keywords (i.e. different types of organizations, networks, drivers, success and time frame) can we conclusively say that their existence or established position in their respective domains is attributed to the Social Networks of their constituents? I guess it would be a bold statement at this point of time, simply for the lack of evidence and acceptability.

Hence, concurring with a few other colleagues of mine, I would say the only obstacle which seems to come in the way of SNs being recognized as a main driver of organizational success by 2020, is measurability or metrics of the value which they create for its stakeholders and the social friction which they generate. Unless the Granovetters and the Powells succeed in their decades long search for a framework that captures the dynamics and the behaviour of networks, which would establish quantitative grounds apart from qualitative deductions out of a network, it would be difficult to displace the traditional key drivers such as efficiency, competitive advantage, novelty of ideas etc.

Going on to establish the purpose of my above arguments, which is well within the lines of the subject of this blog – Writing about a website or article interesting/helpful for the debate – I preferred to look for theories rather than examples, and used the ones I found, to further mould my own understanding of the subject matter, and have tried to come up with a logical approach to our debate.

Inspirations for my thoughts have come from a fascinating article “Network Theory – the Emergence of the Creative Enterprise” (PDF) written by Albert-László Barabási of the University of Notre Dame, which I bumped upon in the article “Social Graphs: Concepts and Issues”, wherein he builds the plot by citing Isaac Asimov’s portrayal of a psychohistorian in his novel series Foundation Trilogy, and fantastically depicts the evolution of scientific network enterprise.

Network Theory - the Emergence of the Creative Enterprise

Another mention worthy piece of network analysis is Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks” (PDF) by Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Calvert Jones.

That was my 2 cents worth on Social Networks :-)

Some interesting dishes on the Social Networking Menu

III. Social Computing

Social computing is supporting any sort of social behavior in or through computational systems. A much more free form of Knowledge Management, social Computing refers to a shared workspace, less centrally directed. The premise of social computing is that it is possible to design digital systems that support useful functionality by making socially produced information available to their users. Time and by, this has been confused with specific technologies like Web 2.0.

Wiki says about social computing at -

This article has some interesting points on social computing

How Microsoft’s sales force used social computing in real world business.
(requires free registering)

The impact of social computing in financial world.,7211,38857,00.html
(requires payment)

This article gives a manager’s perspective on social computing.

Facebook: "BA staff attack 'annoying' passengers"

I found the above mentioned article by searching for Social Network on Google News. This actual information was published by "The Indepentent UK" on Monday, 3 November 2008, and deals about British Airways faced with serious problems regarding Facebook.

A closed group on Facebook which only BA staff is able to join published annoying comments about customers and company organization. A similar case caused a stir at Virgin Air one month ago and led to the lay off of 13 employees.

Even though social networks might be a useful alliance platform for employees and effective marketing tool for companies, such networks can also be a source of damaging publicity. Companies should compile online guidelines which specifically prohibit annoying comments on social network platforms. Such online guidelines should be read and signed by each employee.

Additionally managers need to monitor online activitiy closely to ensure that rules are respected. In this case annoying employees' posts will be discovered earlier and further steps can be taken before public interest is attracted.

Some interesting dishes on the Social Networking Menu

II. Virtual lives

As a hard core role-playing gamer, I always had several virtual identities sometimes even blurring the boundaries between the worlds of reality and my 2-D screen. The concepts of “avatars” or alter egos on the virtual plane, character switching, and varied interactions between a real life person and his avatar are certainly fascinating experiments on psychology and sociology and opens up a Pandora’s box of networking opportunities.

However, virtual worlds are not limited to games but, depending on the degree of immediacy presented, can encompass computer conferencing and text based chatrooms -

Here are some more info about Second Life, an online interactive world.
and the dangers of virtual lives..

Some interesting dishes on the Social Networking Menu

I. Vertical Social Networking

I have been always fascinated by the power of internet in today’s marketing, sales and

advertisement spheres and found the concept of “Vertical Social Networking” very compelling in terms of target audience. Some experts even believe this to be next logical step in evolution of social networking.

“Vertical social networks are those that target a very specific set of users, rather than mass audience. The litmus test is that the users are connecting about something, and that something is not so broad that it would appeal to most of a particular demographic. Some great examples are (running enthusiasts), (Indian dating site) and (dog lovers). Sites like (business), (music), or (religion) are not be confused as vertical in nature - they’re targeting very broad audiences that could almost be considered generic” – David Cohen

Here are a couple of articles I found worth getting an intro into this concept.

Will Social Networking “Rock and Roll” Financial Institutions?

While doing my research for the Social Networking assignment, I decided to dig into current problems in organizations, specifically the downturn of financial institutions, and how would Social Networking approach help those institutions to deal with their problems. In order to make any future predictions, it is necessary to take a look in the past. While doing it, I came across an article

Will Social Networking “Rock and Roll”

Financial Institutions?

which gives an analogy of Rock & Roll music, as it exploded in 1950’s among younger generation, but for the older it seemed not very appealing. Nevertheless, new successful trends are the profit makers and should be adapted by professional organizations, in order to be successful. As of Social Networking, it seems that a history repeats itself, is another transforming phenomena with an introduction of MySpace, Facebook, which are primarily used by younger generation and which seemed at first were not very appealing for the older one. The article presents reasons for future benefits, providing analogies from the past trends in financial institution services and proposes social networking as a new successful business model, which would really help in improving future situation in financial sector.

Online Education: Study Shows Social Networking a Boon for Education

If a kid is sitting in front of computer doing social networking or chatting with friend or your colleague sitting in pool 3 at HHL surfing or does not mean that he/ she is not doing something fruitful… the recent studies and the survey done with the students (ranging between 9 to 17) has revealed that now kids use social networking for their education purpose like purpose of college planning, learning outside of school, careers and schoolwork.
A school in clevand, Ohio is posting student book reports on a blog for their peers, teachers and parents to read and comment on. For instances, Students working on science project can go through the blogs of global warning and during campaign seasons political blogs give students the ground for debating…
Article here on this link that collaboration, self direction and problem solving are some skills that social networking helps student to practice. When parents ask their kids 'What homework do you have? What did you do today in school? May not sound good to students and probably some of you also must have felt it bit irritating but now parents can go online and know what the class is doing and of course what their children are doing…..
Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Board Association, the organization which did the survey realizes importance of Education through social networking and states that “There are some really intelligent, topic specific blogs. We're not saying we should unblock all filters, but schools and parents should open up the conversation and figure out what to block and what to filter,”
Another point here is the social networking activities of children can also help to keep parents up-to-date with their knowledge too….Education through social networking is becoming very popular not only on school level but also on higher education level. The following website gives some insight regarding the contribution of social networking in higher education.

This blog informs about the student online community twitter, which has changed the culture on campus and has given students ways to connect across their university students and can use twitter to ask for help, work on projects, discuss topics during conferences, schedule impromptu lunches, and offer things for sale. Students plan meetings, find opportunities to collaborate and have become a much more connected, intelligent, communicative group that now includes people from several Penn State campuses, departments and academic colleges. This gives the example of twitter of Penn State where members of twitter are IT professionals, professors, advisers, learning designers, and students. Social networking in education has increased a lot and got a lot of potential the website ( ) talks about the class2.0 which is a network of Teachers.

This is just a beginning in the application of social networking in Education and there a lot to be seen in future… or may be who knows 10-15 year down the line Google and Yahoo open their own MBA classes with online social networking group assignments and online classes with online exams like they have thousand of books scanned on their search engines and could be class room studies is just a concept in the future……....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Social networking services fatigue in the private sector and grow in business

My attention was called to the following video on Twitter, a real-time short messaging service, works over various networks and devices. During my research, I was consequently looking for articles that describe a future social networking (SN) services fatigue or a declining product life cycle curve.

The following two articles point out that enterprise SN services investment will continue to increase while private consumers are showing signs of becoming tired of using SN services.

Firstly, according to Forrester, enterprises will increase their investments in enterprise 2.0 tools to $4.6 billion by 2013. The top spending of those investments will focus on enterprise social networking services which will grow from $149 mill to $1,997 billion by 2013. Forrester research is an independent technology and market research company that provides its clients with advice about technology's impact on business and consumers. I found this information on

and it refers to the chargeable article published by Forrester “Social networking will be biggest enterprise 2.0 priority by 2013.” Due to of the current financial crisis it might be possible that the Forrester forecast of the beginning of the year will be fudged. As we learnt in Corporate finance this week a new forecast will be only meaningful in 6 weeks, because the rules of the financial market are out of order at the moment. Nevertheless, SN services as already described by Varun, Linkdin and MeettheBoss benefit from the financial crisis, by reason finance people search for help and exchange experience with each other.

Secondly, the article “It’s Official: U.S. Social Networking Sites See Slow Down” shows decreasing time spent and visitors of SN services in the US referring to the numbers of ComScore, a global internet information provider. This evidence of market saturation for SN services may reach the currently still growing market in Europe in the future. This lets doubt the thesis that social networks will be recognized as the main drivers of organizational success by 2020 in the private sector.

All in all, enterprise SN services might follow the past development of private SNs and will become a “B2B phenomenon” in the future which maintains the thesis of our debate. Companies haven’t discovered the SN services as instruments for knowledge management so far. However, knowledge “can be an organization’s most competitive advantage” - especially in our knowledge society.

Financial Viability of Social Networks

This site deals with the ability of current Internet social networks to proliferate. I selected this article because it focuses on the financial viability of social networking sites, and more importantly, their prospects of surviving years down the road. I found it interesting how it illustrates how there is not necessarily any correlation between the number of site users and the amount of revenue generated. The article also alludes to the current situation with regard to Internet companies, and how it resembles the circumstances prior to the first Internet bubble burst. Despite Facebook's estimated value of $15 billion, it is estimated that it will lose $150 million this year.

I also found it interesting how advertising agency reps are discouraging organizations to advertise on sites such as Facebook and Myspace, stating "It's a really bad place to advertise." The article goes on to discuss how social network users are only interested in socializing, so they have very little interest in selecting advertising pop-ups. Attention, privacy, and content are three mains concerns the article highlights as for possible reasons of why social networking sites can not meet revenue expectations. To remedy the financial uncertainties surrounding social networking sites, the articles recommends that companies try to get "between" users with regard to advertising, but even this tactic appears to have its skeptics.

In my opinion, based on the findings of the article, it appears that social networking sites may always exist, but the ability of current popular sites to operate viably in the distant future looks as if to be somewhat of a fallacy. Social networking sites seem to me to be tantamount to the fads of the past such as pogo sticks and bell-bottoms.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Non-Governmental / Non-Profit Organizations (NGOs / NPOs) and Online Social Networking

Friends of mine that are with a Swiss based NGO (Medair) are currently working in the Democratic Republic of Kongo. They keep contact with their friends via a blog. This motivated me to search the web for information on how online social networks affect the work (or organizational success) of NGOs.

One interesting web site on that topic was the one from Jayne Cravens and Coyote Communications.

The author, Jayne Cravens has supported NGOs/NPOs (like the UNDP) as an advisor. She considers herself to be an internationally-recognized expert regarding online communities and online outreach, which might or might not be true. Nevertheless, she worked on a few interesting SN projects (e.g. Aid Workers Network, United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV)).

On her web site you find the an article on Nonprofit Organizations and Online Social Networking (OSN): Advice and Commentary
This article deals with the question whether there is a value for non-profit organizations to engage in OSN platforms.

You can also find a few links to value-oriented networks (,

Another article with the title NetSquared and the New Wave of Online Volunteering points out how small non-profit organizations with very little staff are doing extraordinary things with online volunteers.

Last but not least I would like to point you to the article through which I found Jayne Cravens web site and that gives an example how a NPO uses Online Social Networking.

Using Social Networking to Stop Genocide by Ivan Boothe

This Genocide Intervention Network transformed from a small student group to a national non-profit by using social media sites like MySpace, FaceBook, Flickr, and YouTube to reach the young people who are their core supporters.

Visibility of Social Network benefits to an organization

Since I think very analytically (maybe too much at times), my first thoughts are that in order for social networks to become a prime driver of an organization’s success, then their benefit must be visible. Therefore, some type of metrics are required although they may not have to be defined strictly in monetary units or even the same for each company. As mentioned in the following article (, one of the top 3 reasons why a company’s social network fails is due to bad metrics

So I started looking into what type of metrics do company’s use and how they are able to realize the benefits of their social network. Well, it seems that this is quite a debate and many organizations are not clear about this. In fact, there seem to be a few companies that offer their consultant services to help other organizations setup a plan for their social networks along with advice on how they can see its benefits. One interesting article written by Maki, the author and manager of DoshDosh (a blog offering internet marketing and blogging tips, alongside social media strategies) breaks down the main goals of company’s social network along with strategies on how to be able to see the benefit. The article can be found at:

Another interesting item is a presentation posted by a blogger named chris at the following link: Within this presentation, he proposes to use metrics such as comparing the number of people who benefited from a resource (i.e. piece of shared knowledge, etc) to the number of people who contributed. Basically, the number who benefited could be equated to your revenue and the number of contributers is equated to your costs.

Oh, and on a side note, here’s a couple of sites with some interesting data in regards to the use of social media by Obama:

Medicine 2.0 : Coming soon...

As I was going through some of these insightful blogs on this page, I just wondered if Social Networking could be of any help to the older generation, who are generally aloof from websites like Orkut, Facebook etc. What could be an incentive for them to be part of such a group (beyond business or career opportunities)? Is there a common interest among such people? Then I came across this interesting piece of article(“Medicine 2.0: Social Networking, Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness”) on the internet ) that talks about a paradigm shift in the health information economy (Transfer of gravity from health care providers to patients) and the role of “Social Networking (SN)” in it. The editor stresses the need for health care system to move away from being a hospital-based medicine that is traditional and closed structured to one that promotes good health and empowers consumers to take responsibility for their own health by engaging them in biomedical research. Health care, I believe, is one area that interests one and all irrespective of the age and is of relatively higher interest to the older generation.

The advent of social networking idea that involves modeling relationships between different people in the field of medicine is quite new. For example, what is traditionally “modeled” in electronic health records is usually medical information (symptoms, diagnosis, therapy), but not the explicit modeling of the patients’ or health professionals’ complex social network. A combination of social networking approaches with emerging technologies such as Personal Health Records will lead to a new class of applications like PHR 2.0. This may result in a powerful new generation of health applications, where people share parts of their electronic health records with other consumers and “crowdsource” the collective wisdom of other patients and professionals.

Younger generation spends hours keeping their Facebook profile current, constantly updating their status. But if the same generation of users were to invest their time and energy into similar tools for health (what the editor calls a “Healthbook” application), the consequences could be immensely positive. Fostering public participation and engagement in research issues, and user engagement in health care decisions will lead to improved possibilities for knowledge translation and getting research findings into practice. The amalgamation of social networking platforms like Facebook and PHR 2.0 will create unprecedented levels of patient participation into areas like health care and will bring them closer to health professionals and researchers.

So, will social networking be the killer application that gets people interested in personal health records, motivates users to take responsibility for their health and health information? Probably yes but there are certainly some open questions here. How comfortable are people in sharing their Personal Health Records and to what capacity? What about the authenticity of the this data available to general public? How can we create “Trust” among people? Is there a body that makes sure that the information is not mismanaged or ill-utilized? What is the effect of this information on younger generation who might act on some semi-finished research results? What about the resistance from the doctors’ community? It will be interesting to watch how these different issues that are inter-linked unfold in the near future.

Articles related to this topic that I found useful:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SN's as business drivers

The topic of this blog is whether SN's will be a major driver for a company's success in the future. A company is known to be the more successful whenever it has a competitive advantage over rivals. As this entry will show, these advantages could also be created by SN's as cross functional "divisions" of a company. Although there are other possibilities to use SN's, I will concentrate in this blog entry on SN's of persons outside the company that help the firm to improve their products to fit to the customers' needs or to improve the identification of the customer with the firm. For illustration, I will give you three examples of actual projects I found on the web.

1. SN's as development drivers
Many of you are familiar with the concept of 'The House of Quality'. The HoQ's main aim is to implement customers' needs in the development of new products on early stage to save R&D costs and to better meet the market requirements. This can be done by a SN. When you form an active community of loyal customers or testers you are able to get information on customers' needs on a very broad but cost effective base. One good example for this approach is where everyone in the community is able to design t-shirts for the company. The rest of the community is then voting on the designs and the ones with the most votes get produced, including a kick-back for the designer. This way threadless is able to save development costs because it does not need to hire designers and at the same time makes sure to only produce those products with the highest market demand.
Another way to use SN's as a development tool is , a page where many R&D labs are bundled to work on specific development problems of firms. A firm using this network is able to communicate its specific problem to far more R&D persons than any normal firm would be able to hire but still only needs to pay for those who come up with the best solution.
By using these approaches, companies with active SN's in this field will in the future have a competitive advantage in effective and fast development over others. The SN's are a competitive driver for innovation (like innocentive) and cost reduction in R&D (threadless).

2. Using customers SN's for marketing
Social networks can also be a strong driver when it comes to marketing for a customer group. Especially binding the customer emotionally to a brand can be very effectively achieved through SN's.
One way is the approach of some Obama supporters' campaign which offered videos like the one on the cnnbc page which I sent around this afternoon ( By motivating other supporters (firm's customers) to send around their advertisement for free to their own personal networks, they were able to reach many people with the same opinion (target group) on a very low cost base. If a firm can use measures like that, they can effectively use their customers SN's to spread their advertisement and thus reach their target group more effectively and also avoid high advertisement costs for tv or print. Reaching the target while saving money will be a great advantage over firms implementing traditional marketing. Thus, SN's can also be a driver for a company's marketing success.

3. Building a firm's SN to integrate customers
The last approach for SN's for companies that I want to discuss in this entry is the possibility of building a firm owned network portal, attached to its products. Advantages of having this can be numerous, including a stronger attachment of the customer to the brand, finding out more about customers' interests and behavior and having blogs where the customers can discuss products and campaigns. All of this information can help a company to measure their success and to identify potential of improvement.
A good example for a firm's SN I found on the web is of Triumph's subsidiary Sloggi, a firm that produces underwear for young people. They built up the portal 'Show me your Sloggi' ( The original idea was to have a contest where all customers were able to post a picture of themselves. The community rated their looks and the winners got a model contract with Sloggi. This way, the company was able to get their customers involved in the company's decisions while on the other hand got a non-professional model for a lower price. Since that contest was really successful and many people opened account on their webpage, they afterwards decided to drive the idea further and offered full SN functionalities like on facebook and alike. By doing so, they got their signees to fill in more personal data and found out more about their connections and interests. They also offer sections where the customer can rate products or offer events like a live photo shooting where the users can actively take part in deciding the set-ups. Sloggi's SN so creates a strong interaction inbetween the firm and its customers offering affection for the customer and giving Sloggi worthy information on its customers demands and lifestyles. Thus, Sloggi can find out much more about the success of their products, reasons for it and what their target group actually is. This integrated approach can be used for development as well as for the development of more effective marketing strategies.

Overall, these examples show that SN's can be effective drivers for organizational success. If used in the right way, those SN's can especially help to significantly improve the flow of information between firms and theirs customers as well as emotionally bind them more effectively. Innovation and communication improvements can increase the success by saving costs in development and advertisement and by the same time make a firm's product more adequate to the market needs.

Lennart Bösch