Debating enterprise Twitter

Thanks to a heads up from @jstorerj at Mzinga, I watched the debate last night on Current TV.  It streamed Twitter updates marked #current or #Debate08 at the bottom of the scream. This Wired article has the details and video that shows what it looked like during one of the earlier debates.

It was the most fascinating application of Twitter I have seen yet.  Sure, it was full of all kinds of random comments, some hilarious, some obnoxious, but it gave a great vibe of what people were thinking during the debate, at least within the self-selecting population of Twitter users.  It made me feel like I wasn’t watching the debate alone, even though I was.

We’ve been doing some research here on Twitter-for-the-enterprise services, including Yammer, Intridea’s, and the recent Signals announcement from Socialtext.  We’ve been playing with Yammer internally, so far mostly as a time waster but I can see its utility and I am interested to see what value we end up getting from it as more users join.

That said, I’m struggling to see how and where the technology eventually ends up in the enterprise.  Is it a stand-alone service that becomes a communication hub?  What will be the relationship with broader RSS aggregation in the enterprise?  Updates made to social software tools or ‘activity streams’?  And what about our current use of IM?  Does this replace, co-exist or intersect in some way with IM?

We’re interested in your comments, since we’re all playing around with this one at the same time it seems.  Has your company started using Yammer or internally?  Where do you see it going?

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#1 Michael Bleigh on 10.16.08 at 4:27 pm

We see as the “third leg” of a good corporate communication structure. It doesn’t replace IM or E-Mail, but it does replace the aspects of each for which they aren’t suited. IM is instant but one-to-one, E-Mail is slow and group e-mail is a mess.

The future of these applications are wide open, which is why we are putting a lot of time and effort into our API. A platform like can integrate deeply with existing enterprise solutions and as such simply become a central and interwoven piece of the enterprise communications puzzle.

#2 Greg Lowe on 10.16.08 at 6:01 pm

I agree with Michael, we are starting to see it as something that can replace e-mail for somethings as well as replace IM for others but not exclusively. We’ve talked about using this as a service interruption notification mechanism since it’s also part Knowledge management and consumer controlled. We have also seen benefits of cutting across organizational silos since people are exposed to all areas of the company that would have been otherwise difficult to communicate with.

#3 Jim Storer on 10.16.08 at 9:35 pm

Thanks for the mention. I’m fascinated by this sort of mixed media and we’ve done some of this with clients of Mzinga. Specifically, we worked with NBC to integrate live comments from iVillage into a broadcast of “The View.” It gives people greater access to contribute to their favorite shows.

Our team is very transparent on Twitter, using it as both to listen and talk with each other, clients and potential clients. We’ve tried Yammer, but unless it’s integrated into existing (as Michael suggests) it just won’t gain traction in the enterprise.

I’m not sure if it replaces email or IM, but it’s certainly become an alternative to those methods for me. Laura Fitton over at Pistachio Consulting focuses specifically on micro-sharing… I’m sure she has thoughts to add.

Jim | @jstorerj

#4 Persia N on 12.22.08 at 7:47 am

Hello All,
IMO Enterprise Twitter type (micro-blogging) apps will not be able to fully replace e-mail or IM.

I recently tried Desktop app mentioned by ReadWriteWeb’s post :

I found it interesting and useful for an enterprise. I would recommend all of you to check it out.