When cloud computing service provider Nimbula hires employees for its South Africa development office, the Mountain View, California, company turns to social networking, not recruiters, to find workers.

The company also uses video conferencing to conduct interviews with job candidates and to demonstrate software to potential customers, which saves travel expenses.Social Media, Virtual Meetings Help Firms Enter Markets

Especially for startups looking to enter new markets, this convergence of technology allows them to maximize resources and save money, according to executives.

They use social networking as a business tool to reach potential employees and customers beyond their geographic zones with a minor financial investment. The 35-hour trip from California to South Africa would cost upwards of US$4,000 for coach airfare and lodging. Traveling to Europe would tally around $3,000 and take 20 hours.

There is a tendency to view “social software” as social networking, when many would say the bigger idea is the use of social elements and features in most business software to create a new “social business,” not simply add a social “networking” element.

By definition, social software uses built-in collaboration tools and features. So a social business is one which uses collaboration in many different ways, throughout its business processes.Social business

Communications service providers participate indirectly, and sometimes directly, in providing social tools. “Social” means communications and collaboration, first and foremost, so broadband, mobility, unified communications, text messaging, videoconferencing and voice are among the foundation elements.

But social tools increasingly are based on over the top applications, such as instant messaging, chat, groupware, blogs and social networks. As is the case for most products and services within the IP ecosystem, communications are a foundation.

The extent to which communications service providers can participate at the application layer varies.

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