|I was reading about SNA in the current issue of BusinessWeek, in the article "The Office Chart That Really Counts" (subscription). As opposed to a hierarchical org chart, an SNA analysis shows who each employee actually interacts with. This shows who's well-connected in the organization and provides a lot of influence. It also reveals people and departments that are isolated, or ones that should be communicating but aren't.|
So the SNA scientists have formalized the old six degrees of separation game. An Introduction to Social Network Analysis provides one of many quick intros available on the Web. An interesting and rather scary example is Social Network Analysis of the 9-11 Terrorist Network. Of course Wikipedia has a good definition and resources in social network analysis.
The BW article mentions that IBM has been involved in SNA for a while. "It's Who You Know" is an IBM article on SNA that's about a year or two old.
This all reminds me of my posting on The Structure of Romantic Relations. Those relationships were of a much more intimate nature, but the idea of who-interfaces-with-whom is the same.
Just to add an SOA twist on all this: It seems to me that in a suitably complex SOA, you could use SNA to analyze the relationships between services. You might be surprised to learn what services use and are dependent on each other.