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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Email is dead, long live social networking

This year saw a major milestone in the evolution of information technology. Social networking traffic exceeded that of email.
Software technology and the Internet have also evolved to the point where integration is almost an open standard and applications now work together seamlessly, with little or no development effort.

The evolution has potentially achieved the holy grail of most software vendors, of true collaboration capability.

I would suggest that the traditional concept of collaboration is also changing. Traditional in the sense that, collaborative spaces are created and updates are notified by email for the user to then go elsewhere to collaborate. With email you address individuals or groups, and if you aren’t part of the crowd you are left in the dark. You don’t broadcast emails to all and sundry to let people know what you are doing.

A new form of collaboration is evolving known as social media. The term is stereotypically associated with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other such social networking sites. To many in business this is seen as personal social networking. To continue with that perception will have dangerous repercussions because this form of communication is the new email. What the social networking sites have done is identify the new way which people now wish to communicate and collaborate. Now you broadcast, and if people have chosen to ‘listen’ to broadcasts and they like what they ‘hear’ they can follow you. If they don’t listen to broadcasts then they search for content they are interested in, and if they like what they see the follow the content also.

People talk about, that having started to use Facebook they can find out more about their family, friends and relatives than from meeting up with them periodically. Because they have been allowed, they can see all the ‘conversations’ and ‘broadcasts’ and again if they choose can join in or even create a new conversation.
Software vendors, because of open standards are now easily able to integrate this type of social media interface to their applications and suddenly collaboration and productivity levels are improving dramatically and increasing the performance of most company metrics – sales, cost reduction, customer satisfaction and ultimately profitability. It has enabled companies who have enabled this capability to do much more with less.

When senior executives tap in to this new social media in their business new insights about how the company is actually working become apparent quickly, hidden knowledge experts are seen and the substantial value they add to the organisation. Marc Benioff CEO of Salesforce.com recently commented that in switching on the Chatter solution, made him change his perspective on how to recognise people in the organisation. A meritocracy could be created, as individuals value-add could be seen at first hand.
Social media can be switched on to broadcast activities not just peoples statuses, so people can follow contacts, accounts, opportunities, cases and anything else an organisation would like to enable.

What people ‘follow’ is entirely personal preference, so information is better filtered to your immediate needs and provided in real-time rather than cluttering up your email inbox.

I’m being a bit harsh to say that email is dead, but it has certainly moved on. The important thing for you and your business is to move on also.

Things to do;
• Find out about social media and how it could become part of your business strategy
• Determine how your applications work today and how you could integrate social media capabilities to improve your business.
• Identify a partner who can help you exploit Software-as-a-Service solutions to make the changes to you business.
• Get the Finance director to revamp his CapEx budget downwards in favour of OpEx, because you are exploiting SaaS technology and Cloud computing.

 
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