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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Office Communicator, Office Talk, and the Future of Social Networking

According to Microsoft Labs, Microsoft is further exploring its role in social networking by unveiling its latest experiment, Office Talk. What is Office Talk and what does it mean for the future of Microsoft?

Microsoft's growing market share in corporate social networking

In 1997, Microsoft first expressed its interest in corporate social networking by launching Outlook, Microsoft's email client and personal information manager. In 2005 Microsoft launched Office Communicator, an instant messenger specifically designed for corporations. Not only is it a great way to keep in touch with employees within an organization, it's also integrated with MS Outlook to provide cross functional features. With the current release of Microsoft's latest experiment, Office Talk, which is a microblogging system like Twitter designed for the corporate environment, it got me thinking about the path that Microsoft has been taking and where they might be headed.

Now that Windows 7 is a complete success, (and the corporation isn't frantically trying to rebound from its most notorious blunder, Vista) it will have more time to devote itself to social networking projects like Office Talk. Twitter users, like myself, are probably very aware of the potential value that a micro blogging system could bring to the corporate world. Most people probably couldn't imagine business communications without email. I personally can't imagine a corporate setting without an instant messenger service like Office Communicator, and I suspect that in the near future, corporations will never be the same once micro blogging takes effect.

Microblogging could forever change intra business communications

Imagine a corporate building packed with hundreds of employees, all nicely tucked away in their cubicles like Tetris blocks. One of the employees has a question about a certain procedure, but he's limited to asking employees who are near by. Imagine if that same corporation were linked together with a micro blogging tool like Twitter. The employee could "tweet" a question, and another employee might respond back to him within minutes. That same employee could also search for tweets to find answers to his question that other employees have posted in the past.

Outlook, Communicator, and Talk

If Microsoft does in fact create a new "Twitter for corporations" service based on Office Talk, it would definitely be tightly integrated with MS Outlook and Communicator. How cool would it be to have all three systems working together?

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