This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Business Agility, sponsored by IBM. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Business Agility site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Facebook Should Do The Following

We put on our community's thinking cap and begin designing Facebook's next steps.

What must Facebook do to remain relevant and to merit its sky-high valuation? The Business Agility community came up with some ideas.

Following Facebook's troubled IPO, we invited the BA community to gather in a live chat to discuss such questions as:

A dozen stalwarts answered the call. Here are some of their insights.

Henry Blodgett was one of the people who got the ball rolling on the question of whether Facebook's underwriting banks should have notified everyone -- not just a few favored clients -- when their own analysts downgraded the forecast for Facebook's earnings prior to the IPO. I posted a link to this contrarian view: "The SEC prohibits the analysts at Morgan Stanley from making outbound calls during the offering window so only large clients that might call and ask about the update, which was based on the companies own update on the economic environment. This is simply a case of unintended consequences."

On the question of Facebook's long-term value and prospects for monetizing its world-record user base, we started off from this article by Michael Wolff predicting that Facebook will hasten the end of the ad-supported Web as we know it. This is, unless the company can come up with a radical business-transforming gimmick of the sort Google discovered in search advertising. Some marketers defend Facebook's prospects in the advertising business; but most agree that Facebook has to get a handle on monetizing its mobile visitors -- with advertising or in some other way.

Enterprise Facebook
Tom Murphy challenged us to envision and define how Facebook might profit by developing products targeted at the enterprise, harking back to a blog post he wrote last December. "What does Facebook mean to the development of social business? Any takers? I think with that much money, the company has the potential to crack into the enterprise market. Why wouldn't it?"

Community member RobD tossed out this sensible idea: "I can see a very simple business model: for $x,xxx you get a page that is collecting all customer sentiment, & we [Facebook] will grade it for you." He pointed out that implementing this model would require doing a good job at textual analytics, which is not trivial. I noted that if Facebook doesn't have that expertise already, its new $18 billion war chest would let it acquire whoever does.

Blogger Karl Hakkarainen sketched the beginning of a spec for "A private-label Facebook to used inside enterprise firewall. With the right protections for security, it could be a win. There could be selected data going in and out to the public realm, perhaps with SSO [single sign-on]." I fleshed it out a little: "Would have to be vastly simpler than public FB. Less haranguing emails. No ads obviously. Biz features like doc repository & change tracking alongside social conversation." Community member munira added: "I agree to the simple approach for business usage... Docs repository and ability to design (charts, diagrams, images from biz perspective) would be a plus."

So there you have it: the beginnings of Facebook for the enterprise. Any Facebook product managers reading this, please feel free to speak up in the comments.