Network World Canada’s trends to watch: Social networking

Hey, ever heard of MySpace or Facebook? How about the Internet? Social networking is a Web 2.0 phenomenon that provides an interesting analogue to promise of the early Web.

In the mid 1990s business-people were scratching their heads. They knew there was a buck to be made on the Internet; surely it couldn’t only be for academics and slackers. They found the money, and in 2008 they’ll be finding more by leveraging social networks. The return on investment isn’t obvious here, just as it wasn’t in the early days of the Internet. However, internal and external blogs are now being used across a range of business applications, whether they are the “soft-skills” of HR or the technical give-and-take of product design.

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Michael O’Neil, co-founder and CEO of IT In Canada, is leveraging social media to develop a national dialogue on IT-related issues. Says O’Neil, “There are a lot of smart people who aren’t benefiting from talking to other smart people.” This is more than unified communications, a well-hyped phenomenon which is harnessing IP-based voice and video to extend presence to be pervasive and person, as opposed to device, specific. With social networking, businesses can cross corporate and geographic barriers to find value in previously unforeseen areas. The trend of looking outside of business for information, and to converse with industry peers, is still in its infancy. O’Neil, whose r

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