Posted by: lrrp | April 4, 2008

Facebook: A communication tool for IT resellers

Technology resellers are establishing pages for themselves on Facebook as a way to network with their peers and customers. A search on Facebook shows there are at least 60 IT resellers, with member numbers ranging from 871 to five. However it appears that Australian IT businesses are lacking presence on the social networking site.
Facebook members have established Apple groups, a Microsoft OEM group, an IBM German Business Partner group and a HP Bangladesh group. Other users have established a consumer electronic group and an electronic security surveillance group. These are only a few examples of how resellers are using the social networking site as a way to communicate with their peers locally and abroad.
The majority of information exchanged by the user groups include advice, complaints and networking for manufacturers, resellers, integrators, and end users. Facebook users see these groups as an open forum for discussion, feedback, collaboration and general chitchat.
While Facebook was founded as a social networking site for college students, more and more global businesses are leveraging the site’s ‘real time’ ability to communicate with the world around them.
According to a Gartner research paper titled: “Facebook and the Emerging Social Platform Wars” published in October 2007, Facebook is just one of many social-networking sites on the Web, but it is the only one with a credible claim to being a “social platform” (a software infrastructure that enables a range of social software solutions). Other sites, such as MySpace and LinkedIn are also evolving in this direction.
Beyond its core student population, Facebook is reaching other demographic sectors, such as technology, media and Internet businesses. According to the Facebook group reporting, many employees are from the largest and most reputable businesses are among those with Facebook sites – for example, 17,000 employees from Microsoft, 20,000 employees from IBM and 13,000 employees fromAccenture.
Technology resellers are establishing pages for themselves on Facebook as a way to network with their peers and customers. A search on Facebook shows there are at least 60 IT resellers, with member numbers ranging from 871 to five. However it appears that Australian IT businesses are lacking presence on the social networking site.
However the Australian business market seems to be dragging its feet in joining the world in this ‘social phenomenon’.
While these enterprise organisations see the value in Facebook, an IDC Asia Pacific survey exploring the impact of Web 2.0 showed that most businesses in the region won’t allow employees to access typical Web 2.0 services (Facebook and Friendster) from work.
Phillip Allen, research manager Vertical markets, at IDC Australia said social networking sites like Facebook are changing the way people develop personal relationships.
“Broadly it is about leveraging the distribution of Facebook for brand awareness. For example I bought a chair from a furniture shop called, Milan Direct. A couple days later I received an email from them asking me if I wanted to be their Facebook “friend”. I have also heard of a bank called TDK Canada Trust trialing a platform on Facebook called “Split It”. It’s an application roommates can use to split and pay their bills,” he said
The importance of Facebook for employees is a sentiment also shared by Gerard Florian, chief technology officer for corporate solutions provider at Dimension Data.
“I think that there is a risk for organisations that ban the use of Facebook by employees, as it sends out a negative message to their staff, rather than potentially sending a positive message about embracing a new way for workers to communicate,” he said.
According to Florian, Facebook has become a logical evolution in a society where poor time management and longer working hours prevent people from being able to keep up to date with their peers.

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