Can you run a business on Facebook?

Alan Lepofsky, a Canadian from Toronto, has the task of developing a money making strategy for social networking.

As a senior strategist for IBM Lotus, Lepofsky needs to figure out how IBM and the Lotus Software division, plus the company’s community of channel partners, can achieve a sustainable revenue stream through the use of Web 2.0 technologies and social networks.

It’s all in a day’s work for Lepofsky, whose job is to consider way-cool trends and figure out a practical business vision for these.

Lepofsky typically does not work on any specific products. He does not have a sales quota and, from what I can determine, he does not report directly to any one individual at the company. Unlike most of us, perhaps, he is absolutely free from the pressure of achieving immediate success.

He’s trying to find new ways for people to communicate with one another, and so he’s looking at the success of Facebook as a social networking community. Could you run your business on it? It’s possible, and he says some are doing it today.

However, Lepofsky himself would be reluctant because of concerns around as security, control, ID management, and back up and archiving. These are challenges that must be addressed in order to turn the mainstream social networking trend into a viable business product.

This is some good insight for channel partners from an executive who has been providing his employers futurist outlooks for the seven years. Customers are talking about Facebook and other popular Web 2.0 sites, and the channel has to come up with a real, solid business models around this. Lepofsky’s advice is to always look at the business reasons for any trendy item first.

Basically, you have to cut through the hype and look at time-tested business principles for Facebook or any other social networking environment.

Do you think Facebook has a place in business? Or do you believe it will be a personal tool? I would like to know your thoughts. E-mail me at

One quick hit before I go. Randal A. Kalpin, former executive at On The Go Technologies, is now the vice-president of operations & business development for Consolidated Information Technology of Toronto.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 24/01/08, 11:43 PM,

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