Can BuddyPress serve the enterprise social networking market?

buddypress-logoWordPress is one of the best known PHP-based blogging platform. It serves as a trusted platform for both personal and enterprise blogs, including brands such as AMD, Best Buy, Ford, General Electric, and Wall Street Journal (source). It is also very extensible: WordPress bloggers can customize their blog by installing one of the many free (or pay) themes and extensions that provide enhance the functionality (like Twitter Integration and Ratings & Reviews). Overall, WordPress is a flexible, lightweight blogging platform.

Recently, the WordPress development created multiple flavors of their platform. One of the flavors is called BuddyPress. It is described as a social networking layer on top of a multi-user WordPress installation. The primary difference between the standard WordPress platform and this flavor is that BuddyPress is pre-configured with standard, social networking functionality, including:

  • User Profile
  • Statuscasting (Activity Stream)
  • Buddylist
  • Forums

The WordPress team recognizes the future convergence of blogging and social networking platforms, especially for internal collaboration. Both kinds of platforms allow users to participate in two way communications, which is the hallmark of Web 2.0 websites. Microsoft has also recognized this trend and has responded by releasing SharePoint 2010.

As an internal collaboration solution, BuddyPress posses slew of social networking features that enterprises require, including LDAP/AD integration (thank you @apeatling). But enterprises also require LDAP/AD integration capabilities to assist with user management (since one would expect more users/employees at enterprise installations than at small business installations). The shear number of users/employees makes LDAP/AD integration a critical user management feature to enterprises. However, employees may start the collaboration process via a tool other than a blog (eg: a Wiki, an email, a chat session, etc.). And regardless of where they start, enterprises need to utilize a social measurement tool to better understand the value of their community to their members. These tools are present in enterprise solutions such as Telligent (see Harvest social measurement tool). Of course that comes at a price.

For now, BuddyPress is the prefect social networking solution for companies where the conversation originates in a blog or forum.

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