Channel partners go Web 2.0

Consumer technology almost always finds its way into the business world, especially as more young college graduates enter the workforce and bring with them all the neat whiz-bang gadgets they came to know and love in college. That's why, for example, mobile devices targeted at business are getting closer to consumer-based mobile devices.

Another technology that's going corporate is social networking. Early on, it was seen as a plaything for teenagers, who shared stories about their young lives and built up huge collections of online friends. But more recently, businesses are seeing that this sort of technology can go beyond just socializing, and it actually has a lot more practical applications beyond finding out who's going to the prom with whom.

Sun Microsystems is the latest to jump on the corporate social networking phenomenon--which I'll just call "business networking"--with some Web 2.0 enhancements to its Sun Partner Advantage Program. According to a recent article, Sun has rolled out something called ExecConnect, a social networking that is used to allow Sun's partners to collaborate, share ideas, and work together.

VARs and other integrators are typically fiercely competitive though, so will this type of social networking really catch on? I say a qualified "yes". It's not likely partners are going to start sharing their own trade secrets, best practices and customer lists, but there are a lot of ways collaboration can help all parties concerned, and I think we'll start seeing more of these large business/social networking platforms.

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