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While the media continues to talk about Twitter as a social phenomenon, I'm struck with how people are starting to use it as a replacement for longtime standbys. For example:
- Product Support: Back in June, I talked to an IT manager at a small financial services firm in the UK. They'd moved to Google Apps and were quite happy with it. As he noted, "It's refreshing to have relatively happy users." When I asked him about support, he said, "Nothing has been broken. When you're looking for information it's easy to find; if you're unsure, one Tweet will get you the info." It's been my experience that enterprises are less than thrilled with Google Apps support--it's difficult to get Google on the phone and you spend a lot of time trolling through forums. This IT manager didn't seem to have that problem, I suspect because he had a relatively small installation (eight employees). However, he also was completely sidestepping the normal support procedure. He'd moved beyond dealing with the vendor; he was quizzing the users via Twitter.
- Product Intelligence: SharePoint 2010 is currently in beta test, and enterprises are pounding it and poking it to understand it. If you go to Microsoft and ask how the beta is going, they'll give you the party line that things are going well (which I think is accurate, as far as it goes). However, that's the 50,000 foot view. What you really want to know is, "What are people doing with it, what are they trying out, where are they running into trouble?" With Twitter, that's easy to find out. Just do a search for "#SP2010." (On Google, do a search for "#sp2010 site:twitter.com"; on TweetDeck, add a column and search for "#sp2010". That tag gives you a realtime pulse on what's happening with SharePoint 2010.