InsideView recently introduced the concept of "Socialprise" as a framework for understanding the way in which the unstructured data of social networks and media are influencing enterprises. A newly announced product, SalesView, is specifically designed to mash-up social data with search and intelligence capabilities to help sales teams automate prospecting, accelerate sales cycles and close more deals. (see http://www.insideview.com/cat
InsideView are essentially a meta-meta-aggregator of relationship and social data, which can be used to infuse/enrich Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, or be used as a stand-alone tool similar in some respects to ZoomInfo (one of their underlying data sources) or other "relationship/contact databases" such as Hoover's.
What does InsideView bring to the table? It helps to provide salespeople and marketers further informaiton to understand their
prey, customers and prospects beyond the bare minimum information (such as name, phone, e-mail, company name, title) they might otherwise have to work with in their CRM or Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems.
They are a meta-meta-aggregator in the sense that they are aggregating (collecting) information from multiple sources, and that their underlying data sources can also be aggregating information from multiple sources (such as ZoomInfo). This extends the reach and richness of the information that they are able to pull back on behalf of users of their system, in a similar fashion to the functionality of federated search or universal search in more traditional enterprise search.
In an ideal world, or at least with the smarter salespeople and marketers, such information will help to weed out who the appropriate people are to engage in more targeted discussions, and to engage in informed conversations of the "2.0 age" rather than in continuing to hammer out cold-calls and blanket, un-personalized (or badly personalized) mass-marketing.
The various sources that they tap for this information are a mix of both typical structured data sources as well as in crawling and pulling in unstructured information that would contain social/relationship information (such as from blogs, Facebook etc.). InsideView has a wide range of paid and free sources that they aggregate and examine to algorithmically determine the relevancy and accuracy of this information. Factors would include such things as: the recency of updated information, determining whether the self-owned and updated sources (such as profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook) are more accurate than automated information collected via subscription service, and so on.
Between the acquisitions of SRD via IBM (in 2005), Interface Software by Lexis Nexis (in 2004), and Contact Networks now part of Thomson West (as of January 2008), this aspect of social networking or social intelligence/relationship intelligence is adding serious firepower for internal enterprise users.
I've been talking about just this sort of "relationship enrichment" or "relationship intelligence" since 2003/2004. When I was with Delphi Group, we began rolling this functionality into the world of "Information Intelligence" as a higher-level topic, with several conferences discussing the mashup of business intelligence, dashboards, search, knowledge management, portals, and more, into a "meta layer" that could unify all of the mess of siloed content/information/data/knowledge underneath. In 2008 we might be more tempted to simply call all of this Enterprise 2.0 (see our Market IQ on Enterprise 2.0).
Further food for thought: See my "Death of a Salesman?" article from 2004 (on Scribd), and March 2008 presentation on "Build Smarter Internal and External Communities" (on slideshare.net) - both of these relate to the enterprise use of social networking.
Social networking is not purely about person-to-person connections, or in providing a virtual watercooler (or virtual voyeur perhaps) view into your "friends" (peers, co-workers, etc.) but also for the ability of participants IN the network to use the data within that network to become smarter in the ways that they interact with the people in that network.
This would provide both the ability to build communities explicitly for the sake of building a community, as well as in using that community as a source of "intelligence" to provide deeper insights into the community as a whole (collective intelligence or "the wisdom of crowds"), as well as the individuals themselves.
All of this latent "social information" is buried in the heap of individual silos both inside and outside of the control of any one corporate, even deeper than "normal" (spreadsheets, reports, PDFs, etc.) electronic information is. Sadly, most organizations have only just recently begun to understand the value of their more explicit "information assets" (even the value of intellectual property in the form of patents are not well understood in many organizations) and the idea of including social/relationship intelligence as a valued asset is well behind that train in the majority of cases I've come across.
There is a giant opportunity here, and for myself, I'm looking forward to the day when we can turn around say "How in the world did we even function without the ability to tap our relationship intelligence?" The early adopters for this type of functionality may easily run away with marketshare, if their competitors stay asleep too long.
Where will you and your organization be on the adoption curve?