Much of the focus in the technology press on Enterprise 2.0 platforms has been on the similarity of these tools to public social networking systems like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
One consequence of this similarity, and one that’s being missed by the tech press and venture investors, is that these platforms make it possible for an employee at any organization to build an internal personal brand.
I believe over time (3-5 years) that employees will view their internal brand as critical to their success within the company, and the forward thinking ones will put significant effort into building that brand. Those employees that are on the bleeding edge will want tools to help them leverage these Enterprise 2.0 platforms in a more effective way.
Contact management and Inbox management tools (e.g. Mingly and Xobni) provide some functionality that can be additive to one’s personal corporate brand, but I believe there will be a strong need (again, in 3-5 years) for tools that provide inbound marketing-like functions that allow individuals to “get found” within their own corporations. These tools will be overlays to existing products (e.g. a Rapportive-like interface for Salesforce Chatter) and mashups, rather than standalone software packages, as they’ll need to augment existing collaboration workflows. Also, the focus of these tools needs to be on helping the individual be more helpful, expand their network within the company, and ensure they “get found” due to highly relevant, timely contributions.
Here are some sample use cases that might be relevant for such a product:
One might argue the Enterprise 2.0 vendors (e.g. Salesforce) will build some of these functions into their products. I don’t disagree with that assumption, but I believe that because these vendors are trying to build platforms that create value for the purchasing company, rather than the individual employee, the roadmaps they execute upon will neglect the needs of the individual employee who is trying to build his/her internal brand.
Update: Fast Company just posted an article about companies measuring the internal influence of their employees and how Salesforce.com is building in features to help better and track influence.