Creating the Social Software Suite using Backplane

Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote an article called “A New Epoch: The State of the Social Software Suites,” talking about the Cambrian Explosion – the rapid emergence of millions of species – and how that correlates to the current social software landscape and the need for consolidations of platforms to help businesses manage not only the applications themselves, and related interoperability, but the vendor relationships. The article states:

A Social Software Suite (SSS) is a consolidated set of social web applications across multiple use cases that share a common user interface and data interchange. The suite enables corporations to manage online relationships and activities with their internal and external customers

The idea behind this is right on and as we look at other digital industries, we have seen the consolidation and emergence of platforms – email marketing, content management, and customer relationship management are just a few. Also, as we have seen, it will take time for vendors to consolidate to form a SSS.

So knowing that a marketplace needs to mature at its natural rate, which is happening much faster and faster these days, how do we fulfill the immediate need of the customer while not creating the bad kind of disruption in the marketplace? A couple years ago Echo and Janrain collaborated on the development of an open protocol called Backplane, which is basically a secure, back channel messaging protocol that allows applications to talk to one another.

Now this doesn’t solve all the problems outlined by Jeremiah, but it does address his point as mentioned in the article:

They seek a common set of vendors to emerge that they don’t have to constantly coach on R&D and integration partners, and are waiting for maturity in products and consolidation so they have to analyze less vendors.  Secondly, as social integrates with all other incumbent software, the need for suites to emerge are only underscored.

The important thing here is that customers – website owners – are faced with having to deal with one-off integration after one-off integration which results in the aforementioned frustration. This is why the Backplane Protocol was originally developed and why the community has pushed the standard forward to be more encompassing and create greater value.  The Backplane Protocol as it stands today gives website owners the ability to have half of a SSS, the other half will have to come with time, as the market matures.

As we look at the marketplace maturing, how do you think application vendors are going to be able to quickly and effectively develop a social software suite. We see today that when one technology company acquires another, it can be 6-18 months or more before the end user starts to see signs of integration and common experiences. By removing the hurdle of apps being able to talk to one another, the focus can be moved to developing a unified user experience and interface. If you have worked in a company that has acquired technology or merged with another technology organization, you know the frustrations of making systems work together and Backplane helps simplify these issues.

By removing roadblocks like Jeremiah outlined, it eases the sales cycle for app vendors, allows them to create more customized, higher value solutions for customers and reduce the frustrations that website owners will invariably come to face with. For website owners, the Backplane Protocol allows you to  provide more integrated activities for your users, improve the user experience, and create seamless engagement across your site all at a lower cost and quicker deployment time.

As we have seen the rise of open source over the years, we have seen complexity and the number of vendors grow equally. I am asking you to take a look at what Jeremiah wrote and then look at the Backplane Protocol website and see if you are interested in participating in the OpenID Work Group or in using Backplane for your website or application. Better yet, give me your thoughts on how we, as an industry, can meet the needs of customers looking for a Social Software Suite?