For most of the pundits out there in valley, OpenSocial is dead and meaningless. However, at Lotusphere 2012 last month, IBM was highlighting how they have used OpenSocial in their image makeover towards Social Business. They have relied on OpenSocial for activity streams and gadgets. When I was speaking to Suzanne Livingston from IBM if she anticipates OpenSocial to be resurrected inside the enterprises (which I personally think is going to be the case), she sounded affirmative. I thought I will do a brief post highlighting this view and get the feedback from other pundits.
Remind me, what is OpenSocial?
Simply put, OpenSocial is a set of APIs (containers) that helps add social component to web services/applications (for example, activity streams are a good example of this) and also in integrating different web pages by using OpenSocial Gadgets. For “interactions” that are not done using the browser, it also offers a REST API. Google threw OpenSocial as an alternative to a walled garden like approach taken by Facebook few years ago. Then Google didn’t have a social DNA and this move was seen as a hail mary pass to stop Facebook from getting a run away lead in social. However, it didn’t get enough traction in the consumer side and Facebook did run away with the kind of lead which Google feared at that time.
However, as the so called consumerization of enterprise started to happen and enterprise applications started getting socially aware (a core attribute as I have pointed out in this position paper), OpenSocial looked like a great opportunity for enterprise software companies. From Atlassian to Jive to IBM to SAP, many companies were embracing OpenSocial for injecting social DNA into their software. OpenSocial did start to gain traction in the enterprise.
Even though Lotusphere was all about IBM’s Social agenda, I didn’t fail to notice how effectively they have used OpenSocial to make their applications socially aware. In short, IBM has bet heavily on OpenSocial and I don’t expect them to go back from this moment onwards. They have tied their social future so closely with the future of OpenSocial.
But will it accelerate?
However, things are changing on the consumer side. Facebook has a strong runaway lead and Google is trying to catch up with their own approach to Social, Google+. This time they are doing few things right and Google+ seems to be gaining traction. Google+, even though it doesn’t have a good set of APIs at this moment, is built on top of OpenSocial and the relative success of Google+ is going to keep them heavily engaged in the OpenSocial community even as Larry Page keeps pruning their own services. Also, Google wants to take Google+ to enterprises and their approach with Google Apps offers some insight into where they are heading. If they want to really get some traction for Google+ on the enterprise side, they have to make Google+ the “social messaging bus” for enterprise application. It implies that they need to invest more on OpenSocial efforts. When you have companies like IBM and Google focussing their energies on OpenSocial, there is a very high likelihood that it will gain further traction and get further adoption. I am always in favor of open standards and I am realistically optimistic about the chances for OpenSocial in the enterprise. What do you think?
disclosure: IBM took care of my travel and stay for Lotusphere