The Enterprises Understand: 'Community' Is Important, but Don't Forget Control

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We've said it before, and we'll keep saying it: After all the dust settles, Web 2.0 technologies will work better in the enterprise than they do in the world-at-large.


It looks like at least one venture capitalist and two Internet executives may agree with us. In a recent internetnews.com article, a partner at the Sequoia Capital firm groused that "very soon there will be enough social networking companies for each U.S. citizen" and wondered "How many of these can people belong to."


We're not venture capitalists, but this is pretty much what we've been thinking. Social networks make the most sense when folks share common goals and objectives, want to compare notes on topics of mutual interest, and maybe do a little networking -- as in, say, a workplace. The incentive would be especially strong if folks had coworkers scattered about the globe.


The wildly disparate motivations of bloggers and other members of online communities make it tough to monetize online content, points out the former COO at Fox Interactive. Not only that, but the publisher or aggregator may not be in control -- a point proved all too well by the recent "Internet riot" at digg.com.


For better or for worse, control is something at which companies excel -- along with well-defined purpose and accountability.


Enterprises will also likely take the lead in constructing the underlying technical architecture, a nuts-and-bolts area that often gets ignored in all of the talk about Web 2.0 "communities" and "collective intelligence."


Bet on enterprises finding the answers to such questions as one rhetorically posed by the former Fox Interactive exec: "What should your storage and network costs be when there are a hundred million unique pieces of content that could light up at any time?" After all, users of Facebook or MySpace expect uptime, businesses demand it.