In my last post, I wrote about salesforce.com’s plans to provide social networks for employees, customers, and products. Now it seems that I can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine or my laptop without seeing a wide range of potential applications, especially around social networks for products. Here are some examples:
Social nets for products: Look to medicine and the wisdom of cars
Reading the online edition of MIT’s Technology Review is as much a part of my daily routine as enjoying a cup or two of coffee. Over the last few weeks, TR has published several pieces on emerging medical innovations that one day may be a critical part of our health care. For example, there was a piece this morning on a new tumor monitoring system that can be implanted in the body to measure blood oxygen levels. The data would be fed wirelessly to your doctor.
Other articles have discussed sensors that can monitor blood pressure and glucose levels. Both TR and The New York Times have published pieces on sensors/monitors embedded into temporary tattoos. These “epidermal electronics” might one day replace the maze of wires attached to a patient’s body.
As I write this, I am wondering how this gets commercialized. Does my doctor’s office sign me up for a modest fee or will it be advertising-supported? Can I use Chatter to talk to my doctor and with other patients with similar diagnoses?
As for vehicles, I’m a sucker for an article promising me “personalized directions” based on traffic, weather, and my own driving habits. In late August, TR published an article on a study conducted by Microsoft Research in China. Apparently, researchers tracked the GPS movements of 33,000 taxi drivers to figure out the optimal route based on the day’s conditions.
What about road safety? Last week, TR described some new work being performed on vehicle-to-vehicle, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. It quoted the U.S. Department of Transportation as estimating that “80% of serious accidents could be avoided” if we could tap the wisdom of cars.
In the vehicle examples, there would be no shortage of potential providers. A quick list would include car companies, insurance firms, SiriusXM satellite radio, and quick serve restaurants – “Today’s traffic is brought to you by McDonald’s. Hey, the highway is backed up for eight miles thanks to the rain. There’s a McDonald’s at the next exit. Come on in for an Egg McMuffin and wait out the storm.”
Social nets for customers: Cars, tires, and newspapers
In his August 31 keynote, Marc Benioff talked about the conceptual social network he designed for Toyota. On that same day, The New York Times wrote about how Ford was teaming with Zipcar to reach young drivers. Ford will be supplying the car sharing service with vehicles on 250 college and university campuses in the United States. You can already imagine the Chatter stream on recommendations for car preferences, restaurants, lodging, and tourist attractions aimed at this demographic.
Keeping with the focus on vehicles, in mid-July Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about Continental’s efforts to reach the “tire guy” at local car repair shops and garages around the U.S. During the course of the year, the world’s fourth largest tire manufacturer will invite 950 independent reps out to its south Texas track to test drive its products. This is big business as the local guys influence 80% of the purchase decisions in the $13 billion retail market for new tires.
Again, you can imagine Chatter streams with video clips featuring squealing tires (and corresponding ring-tones). Watch how Continental’s tires handle adverse conditions. Check out their traction and braking. View how the company differentiates from its competitive positioning. Oh, and feel free to do some merchandising.
As for newspapers, this morning The Boston Globe introduced its first pay site – www.bostonglobe.com. The big technological innovation is the new “responsive web design.” Basically, the paper automatically renders to the traits of the viewing device, be it smart-phone, iPad, or PC.
I looked to see if the new version offers a Chatter-like feature. The website said only that a “comments” section is planned. I suspect that this will be more of an internal political/cultural issue than a technical development.
Social nets for employees: Don’t forget your alums
Last month TR had a short piece on Infosys’ iEngage, an internal network designed to link its 130,000 employees who are spread across the planet. It has also opened up the site to an estimated 20,000 former workers. If you’re planning a social network for employees, you may also want to figure out how to include support for former workers. They can be an important source for new business or may be interested in part-time work.
What do you think?
As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas.