Our society is being transformed by cloud computing, mobile, big data, and social networking. These networks are allowing us to stay connected with family, find new friends, recruit staff, grow our businesses, and more. Considering the rate of smartphone adoption and that social networking is one of the most common things done on these devices, the speed of change and the global impact of social networks will likely increase. As we've seen recently, new networks are popping up all of the time. Instagram, Pinterest, and others have been springing up with very narrow focus that make them appealing for specialized purposes. These niche players are being accquired by Google, Facebook, and the other big providers. It can be dizzying to keep up, but it's a phenomenon that businesses can't afford to ignore.
Social networking provides organizations with the chance to connect with prospective customers and engage with existing ones in ways that were not possible before. In near-real-time, companies can respond to complaints, find interested buyers, incite repeat business, and delight fans. These are important to every company regardless of industry, market, or geography. Everyone has customers that they are trying to move down the customer corridor. Social networking presents organizations with the chance to interact more easily and efficiently regardless of where someone may be in this journey.
While the business benefits are great, there are also risks and challenges that need to be overcome. For example, all of the social networks expose slightly different Application Programming Interfaces (API). Each has a different way of authenticating clients, updating activity streams, sharing files, and so on. To harness the full power of the social networks, organizations have to overcome this fragmentation. While some use standards like OAuth, OpenID, and Portable Contacts for these purposes, the different versions and ways in which these protocols are implemented doesn't significantly reduce the required integration effort. Another risk that has to be handled relates to the Level of Assurance (LoA) that the social identities are correct and trustworthy. Because social networking profile data is almost always self asserted, what a user is authorized to do with such an identity is almost always less than what one can do after authenticating with a stronger form of identification.
These and other challenges are preventing organizations from capitalizing on this societal shift to the full extent possible. Our deep understanding of identity and our partnership with Janrain and others, allow us to help our customers overcome these difficulties. Using our innovative products and solutions, our customers are able to quickly, securely, and affordably integrate social media into their sites. To learn more about how we can help you, feel free to contact us or engage with us on Twitter.