The news that Microsoft wants to create a "MySpace for financial professionals" is, at the same time, one of the most interesting and most frightening trends.
It's frightening because it summons up images of accountants, at their desks in the evening, surreptiously posting their latest tax dodges or the hottest asset consolidation. But it's interesting because it shows how entrenched social networking has become. The IT boys are following the trend set by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation when it bought MySpacein 2005. And Microsoft is following Cisco's purchase of social networking company, Five Across, last month.
I have been told by several companies recently that in order to attract bright, new staff, they have to work to attract the "MySpace generation": young graduates who demand the latest in gadgets, who are seemingly permanently online and whose virtual life is as important as their physical one. So far, IT staff seem to be resistant to such trends: too often they have to deal with the hard facts of IT-illiterate users, cabling that seems to have been laid in Noah's time and servers that over-heat at inopportune times. But Cisco and Microsoft's actions - and Microsoft has already said that it wants in implement several vertical-sector-specific sites - seem to suggest that this is about to change.
I can't see too many techies entering the MySpace world just yet but it's certain that they will do so. Does this mean that vendors will change the way they handle support? Does it change the way that they sell? Does it mean an death to the help-desk as it's currently implemented? We're a long way off a MySpace for techies just yet - but we're slowly inching there.
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