PartnerPedia -- a new social network for managed service providers and VARs -- is set to launch in July. The site is the latest online community that allow MSPs and IT service providers to network, collaborate and outsource work to one another.
However, PartnerPedia is different from vendor-driven IT communities, MSP association sites, and online marketplaces for VARs. Here's why.
Let's start with a look at PartnerPedia, which is expected to have a "soft launch" in early July with an official launch anticipated toward the end of that month.
I took a tour of PartnerPedia's beta site on June 26. The user interface seems rich, and the network's ability to link VARs with one another seems compelling.
Another big plus: PartnerPedia is built on various open source components (Linux, Ruby on Rails and the MySQL database, just to name a few). As a result, PartnerPedia should be able to rapidly expand its features and functions through easy-to-install plugins.
Simple Math Determines Success -- Or FailureNow, for the challenges. It's always difficult to predict the success (or failure) of a social network. Basically, social networks thrive (or implode) based on viral invites. If initial members are happy, they pull in more members. If initial members aren't impressed, social networks rarely get a "second chance" to energize those members again.
The other big challenge: Generally speaking, only 5 percent of social network members actively participate in forums and discussions, and only one percent of members actually lead and drive those discussions, according to our own experience at Nine Lives Media Inc. (parent of MSPmentor).
As I toured PartnerPedia, I was genuinely impressed. And I also saw how it differed from vendor-driven sites (such as Autotask's user community), online marketplaces (such as OnForce), and association-focused sites (such as MSPAlliance).
During my initial tour of PartnerPedia, the system reminded me somewhat of LinkedIn; VARs can create complete company profiles, seek out other VARs and really network with one another.
In contrast, OnForce (the IT services marketplace where VARs can outsource projects to one another) feels more like an eBay of sorts; vendor-driven sites such as the Autotask user community are more highly focused on product-specific discussions and suggestions; and association-focused sites like MSPAlliance zero in on specific programs (such as accreditation, insurance or health care benefits) for specific audiences (MSPs).
Not to be overlooked, some MSPs and Master MSPs (such as Do IT Smarter) are launching online communities to stir collaboration and education.
PartnerPedia is expected to have a soft launch around July 7, with a more official launch penciled in for around July 22.