These tools typically work by analyzing collaborators on publications, co-PIs on grant funding, and subject matter interests.
A possibly more precise way to identify networks and communities is by analyzing email traffic patterns - senders, receivers and subjects. A novel social networking tool from Metasight called Morphix, does this.
MetaSight Communities of Interest and Communities of Relationships are web applications which can be implemented as standalone applications or integrated with a corporate portal or intranet.
The tools work by automatically analysing e-mail subject titles and recipients. Personal, private and confidential e-mails are excluded.
Per the Metasight website, social networking applications of this analysis include:
Innovation- Facilitate connections between communities that are separated by function, department, or location
Communities of Practice - Proactively include interested staff in communities, and identify new community practice areas
Relationships with customers, partners and suppliers - Make relationships visible and network with colleagues around external business relationships
Team formation - Search for team members who have key skills or networks
Internal communications -Create distribution lists based on interest in topics or external relationships
Succession planning - Build knowledge and relationship profiles of individuals can be used to support knowledge and relationship transfer
Expertise location - Automatically maintain profiles of staff knowledge and relationships
Mergers & Acquisitions - Use maps of expertise and relationships of each party to accelerate integration
Litigation support - Quickly identify who is involved from internal and external relationships
Analyzing connectedness in organizations based on who emails whom and what they email about. That's cool!