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 (for more information on M2M read M2M News Weekly). 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.
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 to how questions like this would be posted 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 in the mail over the next few weeks. The entire process could take months.
Today, you can post 12 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 could ask for clarification. 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 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 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 SAP Enterprise Mobility on Linkedin, general enterprise mobility groups, SAP user groups and through sharing 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 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.
Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
Join SAP Enterprise Mobility on Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=2823585&trk=anet_ug_grppro
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.