Hewlett-Packard will be rolling out a social network for IT professionals called 48Upper. The new product ostensibly provides IT workers with a central site for troubleshooting. There will be query-based technology libraries and the ability to mark information shared by users as public or for internal circulation only.
While the product is not yet ready for beta testing, its existence does raise a few questions about the utility of vendor-specific social networks in IT.
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What does this do that listservs, blogs and bulletin boards do not? IT pros already aggregate in well-established sites. In order for a social networking platform to take off, it's going to have to offer something other Web-based watering holes do not.
What problem does this solve, or what need does this identify and fill? The 48Upper manifesto says:
We declare a revolution. The Social Collaborative IT Management Revolution (So-Cool-IT -- we still like abbreviations). There are four core pillars to the revolution: Simple, Social, Open, Fun.
By supporting the four characteristics of the SoCool-IT revolution, we submit that the job satisfaction of the IT professional will increase. This increase in satisfaction will increase employee morale. A happier employee is a more productive employee.
If taken at face value, 48Upper aims to solve the problem of disgruntled and underperforming workers. A well-documented source of dissatisfaction among IT workers is an increased workload with little to no corresponding rise in pay. However, it is entirely possible that a secondary source is simply not having a cool, fun watering hole of their own.