Matt has pointed out some interesting new development in the social network space below, but whats happening in the business world?
Well, we are seeing a marked increase in the level of buzz / hype regarding SaaS (Software as a Service). SaaS basically replaces the concept of purchase and installable software with a subscribe and consume online method. So just like Facebook is an online application predominately aimed at the consumer space, applications like Salesforce.com and Netsuite and business productivity tools solely available online.
Why is this getting so much buzz right now?
For a number of reasons but primarily to do with cost. Its cheaper to delivery this type of software to the users (install / upgrade once and its available to all customers in real-time thereby bypassing lengthy upgrade / patch processes etc..) and therefore cheaper to purchase this type of software.
However, I think most small businesses are actually missing a beat with regard to SaaS models. Sure it lowers the total cost of ownership for the application but it also enables a lot of really interesting features.For example:-
Its now possible for the application to be integrated with lots of online applications via API's such as those provided by Google, Facebook, Yahoo! etc.
Its possible to log every activity in the application via click through analysis to get a better understanding on how the application is used within your organisation and how best to streamline processes and procedures
You can implement "click to SMS" and "click to Call" functionality easily using common applications such as Skype or BT Communicator
You can share data more freely via open data formats / XML
You can share your data with users, customer, partners and suppliers quicker and easier.
So if you are a small business owner - yes you do need to understand what SaaS is but more importantly you need to start to experience its capability lest you get left behind in the technological arms race :-)