Trampoline Systems launched today what they bill as the ‘world’s first organizational tool’, using the Enron email data set (also available publicly here) to illustrate the power of the tool to map the connectors, hubs and information flows through the company’s social network:

It looks like a souped-up and commercialized version of what pioneer Valdis Krebs has been developing at OrgNet for a decade, although Valdis seems to predominantly use the software as part of professional services and consulting engagements for a long list of companies. I’m convinced that this is a tough market for a software vendor, and there are too few companies interested in buying this type of software to build a large software company. We spent a significant time amount of time at Visible Path on the topic, talking to Fortune 500 companies who deployed Visible Path (like Motorola) and had some organizational analysis initiatives in motion. Although the conversations were always interesting, the initiatives rarely seemed to have the momentum to make it to the short list or top of the stack. Here were the main reasons we decided that this was an unattractive application for social network analysis:

  • Lack of specific application in mind
  • Lack of an identified and specific problem to solve
  • Lack of a business sponsor outside of I.T.
  • Inability to quantify the benefits of the analysis
  • Privacy concerns of sponsors outweighed potential value

I think one key to moving to the ‘top of the stack’ is moving the focus from the platform to the application and designing applications (widgets?) that can a solve a critical problems experienced by almost all companies. For example:

  • Retainer – Identify at-risk employees who might leave the company
  • OnBoarder – Evaluate how new hires are integrating into the company

Bottom line: Intellectually fascinating, visually and analytically appealing, but a very limited market for these type of platforms. Some potential to build more interest by developing and focusing on specific applications that address more acute and common pain points in companies.

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