Thursday, December 2, 2010

Facebook “Social” waste vs Google “Professional” network

Simply put, facebook is nothing else but a collaboration platform for friends. It builds a network of friends to share media and collaborate upon it. No innovation here and it has been way too late to implement basic features such video conferences in it’s chat service.
Now, which media friends collaborate on? Pictures, Postings (News Feed), Video, Likes (Links), Messages, Contacts, Events, etc.

So far so good but what is the problem then? Well the rather huge problem is the amount of garbage information that is generated form this friend collaboration platform. Such amount of waste may be fine for teenagers or for casual networking but it’s really bothering the more “serious” and “professional” Internet audience.

Such “professional” Internet audience is sick and tired of trying to make a decent use of a “social” platform that is rather popular but it fails miserably when it comes to do business and professional networking out of it. Why?, because of the amount of waste information. Curation is the key to solve such problem but the network itself is way to casual to try such fix.

Putting the “social” tag to any product such as the “social inbox” to imply that it’s going to be better or revolutionary is getting overstated. Again, for teenagers and more casual matters it may be cool to have “social” this and “social” that but for the professional audience that means even more garbage to bear.

So, as it is right now, the web it’s divided in two with supporters (granted, lots and lots of them) of the “Social Network” and all it’s “Social” waste, and with haters and professional audiences that can’t stand the “Social” garbage but it is spreading like wildfire and there is no alternative to satisfy the more “serious” networking and communication needs.

Facebook has it’s niche in casual matters and will prosper on it. But facebook cannot cater to more serious affairs of people and companies. Facebook and many “Social” networks have an image of delivering to much garbage information and it will be very difficult to change that because it is part of being “Social”.

So, what exactly is needed for the more “serious” and “professional” affairs of people and companies? Any normal person can do fine with a facebook account to take care of family, friends and casual communications but also the same normal person needs to take care of more “serious” and “professional” networking.

And, what are exactly more “serious” and “professional” network needs for normal people and companies? Just compare the quality of information that LinkedIn generates against facebook and you’ll get the point.

What is needed to cater the professional networking needs is a collaboration platform that unifies communications, “Social” and “Professional”, of people and companies.

Now, I agree with Pete Cashmore on his CNN column that any facebook killer won’t look like facebook.

There is not need for yet another “Social” network and facebook can be left alone doing what it’s good at (generating waste information).

Since facebook (at least to the most part of the users) it’s nothing else than a plain vanilla collaboration platform for friends, then a facebook alternative to more professional needs could be a collaboration platform for professional networking. It would not be an innovation either but it can be better structured to do the job for professional networking and communication needs.

When thinking about such collaboration platforms for professional communications some names are already out there doing the job: basecamp, centraldesktop, collaber, bizantra, proofhub, etc. But all of them are pay versions of something that google could easily put together for free with all the google services integrated in a collaboration platform.

The only giant that could possibly do something to build a professional network is google because it has the means and the products to crush facebook services. The only problem is that while facebook it’s already a collaboration platform, google still has to put all its products in an integrated collaboration platform for professional networking needs.

Such professional platform may even appeal to use it for more casual affairs if it has a way to effectively divide sharing and communications amongst “Social” and “Professional” contacts with the use of groups (workspaces) and access controls (granular controls to the point of having the option to grant access to specific content not only by email id but also by passwords). Then facebook could have a big competitor (or a facebook killer).

Let’s enumerate the facebook services against google ones to see just who can build a better collaboration platform::
  1. Facebook “Social” Inbox vs Google Gmail
  2. Facebook SMS integration vs Google Voice
  3. Facebook Chat (No Video) vs Google Talk
  4. Facebook Places vs Google Maps
  5. Facebook News Feed vs Google Wave
  6. Facebook Updates vs Google Buzz
  7. Facebook Profile vs Google Profile
  8. Facebook Groups vs Granular group and individual access
  9. Docs
  10. Android
  11. Postini, secured communications
  12. Feedburner
  13. Youtube
  14. Blogger
  15. Picasa
  16. Calendar
  17. Translate
  18. Sites
  19. Checkout
  20. Groups
  21. Reader
  22. Real Time
  23. Earth
  24. ...etc

Imagine a collaboration platform that integrates all the above services plus also lets you monitor your other network sources. Wrap everything in a nice and friendly URL and you have something that even facebook can only dream about (sorry for the staff that is leaving google).

For a little more details of an hypothetical google collaboration platform you may want to read this article:
HOW google can defeat the new facebook messaging system

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