Tibco Software is expected to announce the launch of TopCom, a hyper-secure private club online, serving the role as a social network and video-messaging service that will be made accessible only to the top 200 members of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The idea is to create a “Facebook for global leaders,” allowing the world’s movers and shakers to respond rapidly and assist one another in times of crisis.
TopCom is being officially launched in late January at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. It is basically a customized, ridiculously secure version of tibbr, a platform developed by Tibco as a kind of combination Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, texting, and Skype.
The TopCom version of tibbr is specifically made for the WEF, the organization founded in 1971 by the German economist Klaus Schwab, which gathers together the world’s business, intellectual, and political leaders to discuss common issues. Because the organization has a hierarchy, so does TopCom: The top two hundred WEF members — basically, the people who run the world — can speak to one another on a given subject, and then they can choose to loop in members from lower tiers (experts, academics, etc.) as needed, widening the pool of knowledge on whatever problem is on the table.
It is, Schwab says, a “Facebook for global leaders.” For example, Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda can post a video of himself — viewable only by the top two hundred — asking for help because a major earthquake has caused a tsunami that’s approaching his country. Minutes later, Schwab would see the message and call for an immediate videoconference among the appropriate world leaders to get Japan aid in the quickest way. CEOs of companies that have facilities near the impact site — there’s a Nissan plant close by, for example — could join forces for evacuation and figure out how to address interruptions to their supply chains.
The alert could then be extended to the next tier so that, for instance, experts on nuclear power and crisis management could instantly offer opinions on the likelihood of various disaster scenarios. Others could predict where aftershocks were most likely to occur. And on and on.
With tibbr, in addition to following people, you choose and follow subjects — issues, crises, topics of discussion, upcoming events. You don’t have to remember which people you’re supposed to include on an e-mail about a subject, because they’re all following it. You just post your message and the right people see it. You can talk one-to-one or to everyone who’s following the subject.
We live in the information age, but what TopComs creator, Vivek Ranadivé, saw was that as fast as information travels, it’s not fast enough. These kinds of conversations — between the Japanese prime minister, other world leaders, Schwab, and experts who could offer help during the impending nuclear disaster — took place over the days and weeks that followed the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year. With TopCom, Ranadivé argues, they could have happened within minutes and hours, possibly saving lives.