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Time to See the Importance of Internal Branding

The next big opportunity in Enterprise 2.0

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:

  • Identify useful Salesforce Chatter nuggets based on context gleaned from the email Inbox
  • Suggest reposting of recently browsed Web content based on relevancy to real time streams in the CRM or Inbox, or proactively suggest content that should/could be posted
  • Import followers/connections from other platforms into the internal collaboration / CRM or vice versa (e.g. Look at LinkedIn connections to suggest users on Salesforce Chatter that aren’t being followed but should be)
  • Identify best times to share content based on historical Inbox or CRM activity levels
  • 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.

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    More Stories By John Gannon

    John Gannon is an Associate at L Capital Partners, a $165-million fund looking to advance companies with the potential to take groundbreaking products to market. He blogs at http://johngannonblog.com. Prior to joining L Capital Partners, John worked with Highland Capital Partners and Chart Venture Partners to identify and evaluate new opportunities in the enterprise IT sector. He also served as a consultant advising startup companies on business development, product strategy and venture capital fundraising. He currently sit on the board of advisers of VAlign Software.

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