A participant in a LinkedIin group I was reading today listed his requirements for an M2M (machine-to-machine) solution. He was asking the group for recommendations as to how to select and implement an M2M solution. Other participants in the group added their advice and comments until there was a long list of recommending vendors, solutions, strategies, etc. I was impressed. I have seen this same result here on SCN.
Social networking and social media tools can be used very effectively today if you know how to use them. I thought back a few years ago to how questions like this would be addressed in the past. Often you would spend weeks creating an RFI that you would send out to a long list of vendors that you found in the back of an industry trade magazine. The responses were then reviewed and RFPs were sent to a subset of the respondents. You would receive responses by fax or via mail over the next few weeks. The entire process could take months.
Today, you can post a list of questions to a special interest group on LinkedIn, SAP Community Network or other online discussion groups and the ideas, recommendations and links to other resource sites come pouring in within minutes.
The person that posted the questions about M2M had additional advantages. He could see the profile of each person responding. He could see where they worked and review their background. He could ask additional questions and for the clarification of answers. All of the answers were public, so other peers could also review and debate the merits of various answers. These public responses have a way of encouraging honest and thoughtful answers. The whole world can read and critique them.
Public discussions on subjects like enterprise mobility and M2M also educate the industry. Everyone benefits from reading the questions and answers that are posted. It is group think. It is group education. It is group advancement.
Group discussions on subjects like M2M also have a way of sorting out vendors. It is a fact that an enterprise mobility or M2M vendor could be very competent, but if they don’t participate in public forums, they lose their industry standing and thought leadership roles simply because they aren’t present and participating.
Companies like Clicksoftware, in the enterprise mobility space, however, are active conversationalists in discussion groups like SCN, SAP Enterprise Mobility on Linkedin, and many other discussion forums. They also share their knowledge through blogging.
Today it is not enough to have good R & D, technology, funding, partnerships, marketing and sales channels. Companies must share their knowledge and participate in the industry’s education and conversation. Some companies have learned this lesson and are active community contributors, while others today are fading from view, not because their products are not good, but because they are not participating in the industry’s conversations.