Social and Organizational Network Analysis and Mapping
Software technology that helps organizations manage networks of contacts and relationships, skills, experts and their expertise could naturally be categorized under collaboration software. It does however straddle two other categories as well:content management and knowledge management (despite the fact that KM could serve as an umbrella term, we shall consider it as a separate category for the purpose of this article).
The buzz has been around a few companies (Visible Paths, ZeroDegrees, Spoke Software, OrgNet and Linkedin) and more specifically the way these companies are offering solutions and services (hosted and managed services) in leveraging social and organizational networks and contacts.
These companies claim that this ability to discover relationships, uncover complex social and organizational networks can help organizations and individuals to build commercial relationship with each other. Visible Path is a in stealth mode but Spoke and ZeroDegrees offer enterprise software that could be used by organizations and individuals to manage their internal as well external-facing social networks.
Spoke, for instance, claims that its software can help enterprises improve deal close rates, deal velocity, and revenue per customer by providing the ability to discover and leverage relationship networks that exist within and outside an organization.
Companies listed above are relatively new, but Orgnet has been providing a variant of the organizational relationship analysis software for quite some time now. Its network mapping and measuring software InFlow has now entered into version 3.0. Orgnet talks of wide-spread applications for Inflow, from project management and team building to locating expertise and organization design; from mapping terrorist networks to protein Interaction analysis; and from knowledge management to discovering and mapping communities of practices.
Collaboration Software and Experts & Expertise management
This brings us to more established players that offer collaboration and work-flow management software solutions and the following are the notable players in the field: Opentext LiveLink ; iManage (now Interwoven); Groove Networks ; Kamoon Connect ; AskMe ; IntraSpect ; KNexa . For all these establish players collaboration - from project management and work-group-related collaboration to sales and marketing-related collaboration to information and research-related collaboration - provides a backdrop for managing relationships or contact networks, especially networks of experts and their expertise. Among the players listed above, AskMe and Kamoon Connect have tried to integrate the experts and expertise management aspect into their solutions.
Fusing Social Organizational Relationship Network and Experts and Expertise Management
The way forward for a serious enterprise player seems to be a solution that integrates the features of discovering socio-organizational networks; managing experts and their expertise; and connecting them to right information and content resources on a robust collaboration platform. The vendor that comes close to this mix is Tacit . Its software can "automatically and continuously discovers the detailed work focus, interests, and activity of each person in the organization and pro-actively alerts users to relevant opportunities for collaboration."
Open Expert Network and Blogs
On a side note, with a very widespread popularity of blogging, open networks of experts, sharing ideas/skills, and offering a connecting opportunity to focused communities of users and social networks offering to match people to other can become public hubs of experts and expertise management. Ryze or Experts-Exchange or Friendster are good examples Internet-based open networks that are thriving and bursting at the seams.
Using Orgnet's InFlow 3.0, a social network mapping and measurement tool an attempt was made to map the friendship networks of some Ryze members and the results make an interesting reading.